Report: ISIS ‘waterboarded’ Syria captives

U.S. activists emulate waterboarding technique used on Sep. 11 prisoners at a protest in San Francisco in 2009.

U.S. activists emulate waterboarding technique used on Sep. 11 prisoners at a protest in San Francisco in 2009.

While U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reiterated his condemnation of yet another crime by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on Friday, the Washington Post reported that at least four Western hostages held by the militant group were waterboarded.

The hostages including murdered American journalist James Foley were waterboarded in the early part of their captivity in Syria, The Washington Post said Thursday.

Foley, whose recent execution at the hands of the extremists provoked revulsion, and the other kidnapped Westerners were waterboarded “several times,” the newspaper said, citing people familiar with their treatment.

Sources involved in trying to free the hostages have confirmed to AFP that waterboarding was used on at least one hostage.

Waterboarding, which was used by the CIA during interrogations of suspected terrorists after the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks, is a widely condemned form of torture that simulates drowning.

The Post quoted one person with direct knowledge of what happened to the hostages as saying the Islamists, who last week released a grisly video showing Foley’s beheading, “knew exactly how it was done.”

The captives, including Foley who was kidnapped in northern Syria in November 2012, were held in Raqa — the heartland of the “caliphate” ISIS has declared — the Post said.

It quoted a second person familiar with Foley’s time in captivity as saying that the American, who contributed reports to GlobalPost, Agence France-Presse and other media outlets, was tortured, including by waterboarding.

The black-masked militant seen in the video holding Foley, 40, by the scruff of the neck, said the journalist’s killing was to avenge American airstrikes against the ISIS in Iraq.

U.N. chief denounces killings in Iraq

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday slammed “brutal killings of civilians” by ISIS in northern Iraq, saying the Sunni radical group was tearing apart whole communities.

The U.N. human rights chief earlier this week accused the group of “ethnic and religious cleansing” in Iraq, saying their reign of terror against non-Arab ethnic groups and non-Sunni Muslims involved targeted killings, forced conversions and abductions.

Ban added his voice to the growing concerns, telling a United Nations conference on the Indonesian resort island of Bali: “All major faiths value peace and tolerance.”

“That is why I am especially outraged by the reports from Iraq of brutal killings of civilians by ISIS,” he added.

“Whole communities that had lived for generations in northern Iraq are being forced to flee or face death just for their religious beliefs.”

Ban said that communities should not be threatened simply because of “who they are and what they believe.”

 
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