Ex-hostage reveals torture by Isis jihadists

Islamic State extremists staged mock executions of Western captives held in a Syrian compound intended to be the jihadist answer to Guantanamo, former hostage Javier Espinosa revealed Sunday

Ex-hostage reveals torture by Isis jihadists
Javier Espinosa is greeted by his son as he arrived in Madrid, March 30, 2014.

Writing in his El Mundo newspaper, the Spanish journalist who was kidnapped on September 16, 2013 and freed on March 29, 2014, also detailed for the first time the execution of Russian hostage Sergei Gorbunov, who went missing in October, 2013.

Espinosa said IS grouped as many as 23 hostages from 11 Western countries in a villa north of Aleppo, where his captors wanted to replicate the US prison in Guantanamo, Cuba, used to detain enemy jihadist combattants.

Quoting information he'd been told by American journalist James Foley, who was decapitated by IS in 2014, Espinosa wrote: "'They had this project for a long time. The (head guard) told us at the beginning they wanted to intern Westerners in a high-security prison with cameras and lots of guards'."

"'They told us that we would be here for a very long time, because we were the first ones they captured'," Foley confided to Espinosa.

He said the group of 22 European, American and Latin-American journalists and humanitarian workers held in the compound were submitted to repeated mock executions by a trio of particularly brutal guards that prisoners nicknamed "The Beatles."

Other times, hostages were forced to view images from the execution of Russian engineer Gorbunov, who was assassinated by what captors told the prisoners was an exploding bullet fired to his head.

"You may wind up like him," Espinosa recalls a guard taunting him. "Or maybe we will make you unearth him and dig another grave so you can sleep with him."

Espinosa says he waited nearly a year after being freed to reveal details of his detention because IS captors had warned they would execute remaining hostages if he spoke about his ordeal "before everything has been finished."

Espinosa wrote that time has now come, with 15 of his group of 23 prisoners having been released, six executed, and American humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller killed in a US bombing of IS positions last month.

The fate of another fellow detainee, British photographer John Cantlie, is unknown after a recently released IS video showed him still alive.


WATCH: Spanish police arrest ‘most wanted’ ISIS suspect hiding out in Spanish lockdown

A former British rapper and notorious Islamic state suspect has been arrested in Spain, judicial sources said on Wednesday.

WATCH: Spanish police arrest 'most wanted' ISIS suspect hiding out in Spanish lockdown
Photo: Ministry Interior

Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a former rapper from west London who once posted an image of himself holding a severed head on Twitter, has been arrested in the southern coastal city of Almeria, the source said.

Police had on Tuesday announced the arrest of “one of the most wanted foreign terrorist fighters of Daesh” — the Arabic acronym for Islamic State — identifying him as an Egyptian national but without giving his name or saying exactly when he was detained.

Speaking to AFP, a Spanish judicial source confirmed it was Bary.   

Police said the suspect “had recently entered Spain illegally and was found hiding in a rented flat” in Almeria where several other people were also arrested.

“He is one of the most wanted terrorists in Europe on grounds of his criminal record within the ranks of Daesh and because he is extremely dangerous,” a police statement said.

Before arriving in Spain, Bary spent “several years in conflict zones in Syria and Iraq”, police said, describing him as presenting “some very strange personality traits and an extremely violent criminal profile which had brought him to the attention of Europe's police and intelligence services”.

Born in London, Bary shot to notoriety after his Twitter post in which could be seen holding up the severed head alongside the caption: “Chillin' with my homie, or what's left of him”.

He is the son of Adel Abdel Bary, an Egyptian who in 2015 was sentenced to 25 years behind bars by a US court for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 and wounded more than 5,000 others.