The ISIS Hostage (2016)
Six of Daniel’s male fellow prisoners died in captivity. The last person to be killed was the American Peter Kassig, who was executed by ISIS on 16 November 2014.
Nor have the female hostages been spared. On 6 February 2015 Islamic State published a photo of what the organization claimed was the bombed-out building where the American Kayla Mueller was being held, alone, when she was killed by a Jordanian air strike. In fact, IS probably killed the American woman itself when negotiations stalled.
In late 2015 new information appeared about Kayla Mueller’s time in captivity. Apparently she had been kept in the residence of an IS leader best known by his nom de guerre Abu Sayyaf, who had a senior role in overseeing IS’s gas and oil operations. His wife Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar admitted to FBI agents that IS leader al-Baghdadi ‘owned’ Kayla Mueller while she was held in Abu Sayyaf’s residence. According to US officials, Kayla was raped repeatedly by al-Baghdadi while in captivity.
The wife of Abu Sayyaf is now charged in federal court in Virginia with conspiracy in the death of Kayla Mueller.
Jihadi John, a Kuwaiti-born British citizen from London who was later identified as Mohammed Emwazi, was killed in a drone strike in November 2015. In January 2016 IS acknowledged his death in their online magazine Dabiq.
Two days after Emwazi was killed, the man who is believed to be George and another friend of Emwazi’s from London were arrested in Turkey. Aine Davis, a former drug dealer aged thirty-one, was arrested on suspicion of planning attacks in Istanbul similar to the November 2015 attacks in Paris.
The Washington Post and Buzzfeed identified the third of the trio, Ringo, as Alexander Kotey, 32, a Londoner of Ghanaian and Greek-Cypriot background. His whereabouts are unknown.
On 24 September 2014 the United States placed ten new people on the so-called Specially Designated Global Terrorists list, which contains the names of the world’s most wanted terrorists and terrorist organizations. One of the names added was Abu Athir, the Emir of Aleppo, who was responsible for the hostages. According to the US State Department, using another alias of his, ‘As of mid-July 2014, Amru al-Absi was selected as ISIL’s provincial leader for Homs, Syria, in the Aleppo region. As a principal leader of ISIL in Syria, he has been in charge of kidnappings.’
Syria is still one of the most dangerous places for journalists to travel to, and kidnappings of journalists and photographers continue as the media tries to report from the war zone.
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Since the summer of 2015 Daniel Rye has been in the process of fixing up his new 150-square-foot allotment house in Odense. The house is where he is beginning his new life, in which he hopes to continue his photography.
Daniel’s fellow prisoner John Cantlie, the British war correspondent who was captured with James Foley, is probably still in captivity. He has appeared in a number of ISIS videos, first in a six-episode series entitled Lend Me Your Ears and later, as an Islamic State ‘reporter’ who has filmed in Kobanî, Mosul, Al-Bab and Aleppo under the guard of his kidnappers. In one of the videos he interviews a man identified by some as Abu Mohammed, his former French prison guard from the children’s hospital in Aleppo.
In November 2015 Cantlie appeared in a byline in the IS magazine Dabiq. The piece, entitled ‘Shift: Paradigm Part II’, which may or may not have been written by Cantlie, discusses the caliphate and its currency. And in March 2016 he appeared in a video posted online by ISIS in which he is shown presenting a news report from Mosul that derides US attempts to deal with the extremist organization.
In the summer of 2015 President Barack Obama announced that the White House would not prosecute families of American hostages who negotiated private ransoms with terrorist organizations. If that had been the situation while James Foley was alive, the family would have been able to try to collect the ransom money and potentially save his life without the risk of prosecution.
Otherwise, Denmark, the United States and the United Kingdom maintain their policy of not paying ransoms for citizens who are held by terrorist groups such as IS.