Former hostages pay tribute to James Foley

Didier Francois, a 53-year-old reporter with radio station Europe 1, described the American he came to know during the period in which both he and James Foley were being held hostage.

For two-and-a-half months, Mr Francois was chained to fellow French hostages, Nicolas Henin, Edouard Elias, and Pierre Torres. They were released in April after France paid a ransom.

Mr Henin said today that Mr Foley was beaten more than any other hostage because he was an American and ISIS knew his brother was in the U.S. Air Force, and in one incident he was ‘crucified against a wall’, it has emerged.

The killer spoke in a distinctive English accent and his eyes and build are clearly visible in a propaganda video in which he cuts Mr Foley’s head off.

Mr Francois spent eight months with Mr Foley as a captive in Syria, enduring most of that time in underground cells with no natural light.

Mr Francois said he had never spoken publicly about James Foley or the remaining American hostage, Steven Sotloff, before because of threats of reprisals.

Mr Francois said he was told by his captors: ‘If you make public the fact they are being held or that you were together, reprisals will follow against them. Their exact words were: “They’ll be punished”’.

Mr Foley had been singled out for beatings, said Mr Francois, after his captors found pictures on his computer of his brother, who works for the US Air Force.

He said that Mr Foley was subjected to mock executions, including one in which he was ‘crucified against a wall’.

Paying tribute to the American, Mr Francois said: ‘He was an extraordinary guy – a companion in imprisonment who was very agreeable, very solid.’

Mr Henin became tearful said the murdered journalist shared his food and blanket.

He said: ‘We spent seven months in a very extreme situation together, including for one week we were handcuffed one to the other day and night.

‘In circumstances where you are held captive you develop some kind of survival instincts, meaning that, for instance, you try to grab everything that you can find.

‘James was the total opposite. He was so truly generous. Basically everything he could share, he would share it. If we were cold, and we were missing blankets, he would share his blanket.

‘If we were starving and missing food, he would share his ration.’ [Continue reading…]

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