Murdered Isis hostage James Foley 'showed true humanity' by giving up freedom for fellow captive John Cantlie

James Foley is believed to have been beheaded by Isis last year

Kashmira Gander
Monday 16 March 2015 11:40
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Murdered Isis hostage James Foley “showed his true humanity” when he gave up an opportunity to escape from the extremist group in an act of solidarity towards his friend John Cantlie, a fellow hostage has revealed.

Last summer, Isis released the first of several brutal online propaganda videos which appeared to show the tragic beheading of American photojournalist Mr Foley, 40. His executioner, known as “Jihadi John”, has since been unmasked as 26-year-old Londoner Mohammed Emwazi.

Mr Cantlie, who is also a photojournalist, has now been in captivity for over two years, and has appeared in a number of Isis’ slick propaganda videos, aimed at recruiting members. Other victims killed in the same violent manner last year include British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning.

British hostage John Cantlie in the new Isis propaganda video, filmed in Kobani

Spanish journalist Javier Espinosa, who Isis released in March following his capture since December 2013, has spoken of how Mr Foley had tried to flee their captors on two occasions.

The El Mundo correspondent wrote in The Times: "Foley and Cantlie tried [to escape] twice. The first was a failure before it started. They were caught trying to get off their handcuffs with a skeleton key they made.

"On the second occasion, the American showed his true humanity. After getting out of the room where the prisoners were, he had to wait for Cantlie who was to escape second. The guard saw that Cantlie [had freed himself] and Foley could have tried to escape on his own, but gave himself up. 'I couldn't leave John on his own,' Foley said."

Mr Espinosa went on to describe how their bid for freedom "caused them weeks and weeks of punishment. Blow after blow. Attempted drownings. More blows".

He added that Cantlie had told him: "They were literally trying to kill us for weeks until they realised that we had given up trying to escape."

Mr Espinosa’s account matches suggestions by Mr Cantlie in an Isis video that he had suffered waterboarding - a torture technique widely associated with the US Central Intelligence Agency.

In the fifth episode of the propaganda films series entitled Lend Me Your Ears, released in November, Mr Cantlie said: "Now, unless we tried something stupid like escaping or doing something we shouldn't, we were treated well by the Islamic State.

"Some of us who tried to escape were waterboarded by our captors, as Muslim prisoners are waterboarded by their American captors."

Writing last year, The Independent’s Defence Correspondent Kim Sengupta relayed a conversation with Mr Cantlie, in which the photojournalist described how he and a Dutch photographer Jeroen Oerlemans were previously captured in July 2012 and were shot as they tried to flee.

Mr Cantlie was last seen in a documentary-style production titled From Inside Halab, the ancient name for the Syrian city of Aleppo, reporting on a range of topics including education, drone strikes and Sharia law.

The hostage appears well in the film released last month, in which he wears black trousers and a brown coat.

Mr Cantlie's family have made repeated appeals for his release, but to no avail.

Additional reporting by PA

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