“The Horror Before the Beheadings”

On October 25th, MSN.com published “The Horror Before the Beheadings,” which detailed some of the experiences of the hostages of ISIS (or ISIL). You should read the entire article to learn more about what they faced. I’ve picked out a few details that I found interesting. But the entire article is fascinating, so read it!

The Initial Interrogation

One of the first things the kidnappers do is force you to provide the passwords to your social media accounts. They look for evidence that you are a spy or sympathetic to Western militaries. The article mentions that the British hostage, David Haines, was discovered to have a military background by looking through his LinkedIn account.

At gunpoint, Mr. Sotloff and Mr. Abobaker were driven to a textile factory in a village outside Aleppo, Syria, where they were placed in separate cells. Mr. Abobaker, who was freed two weeks later, heard their captors take Mr. Sotloff into an adjoining room.

Then he heard the Arabic-speaking interrogator say in English: “Password.”

It was a process to be repeated with several other hostages. The kidnappers seized their laptops, cellphones and cameras and demanded the passwords to their accounts. They scanned their Facebook timelines, their Skype chats, their image archives and their emails, looking for evidence of collusion with Western spy agencies and militaries.

The Relentless Torture of James Foley

The terrorists especially disliked James Foley. From the several articles I’ve read, they singled him out for more torture and abuse than the other hostages. I believe that this was the result of the terrorists finding many pictures of him with U.S. soldiers in the Middle East on his external hard drive. (He was, after all, a war photographer.)

You could see the scars on his ankles,” Jejoen Bontinck, 19, of Belgium, a teenage convert to Islam who spent three weeks in the summer of 2013 in the same cell as Mr. Foley, said of him. “He told me how they had chained his feet to a bar and then hung the bar so that he was upside down from the ceiling. Then they left him there.”

Stephen Sotloff’s Courageous Practice of Judaism

I’ve only read a little about Sotloff. But he clearly had tremendous courage to practice his Jewish faith, even in secrecy.

“Only a handful of the hostages stayed true to their own faiths, including Mr. Sotloff, then 30, a practicing Jew. On Yom Kippur, he told his guards he was not feeling well and refused his food so he could secretly observe the traditional fast, a witness said.”

James Foley’s Genuine Conversion to Islam

We should remember that the Islamic State isn’t only targeting non-Muslims. From what I’ve heard, they have killed many more Muslims than they have non-Muslims. Even if Foley genuinely converted to Islam and didn’t do it only to curry favor with the guards (as some hostages apparently did), his conversion did not persuade these evil people from murdering him.

“Those recently released said that most of the foreigners had converted under duress, but that Mr. Foley had been captivated by Islam. When the guards brought an English version of the Quran, those who were just pretending to be Muslims paged through it, one former hostage said. Mr. Foley spent hours engrossed in the text.”

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