The Islamic State reportedly waterboarded U.S. journalist James Foley several times, employing a method of torture used by the CIA in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America. Foley and at least three other hostages endured the torture at the hands of the militant group formerly known as ISIS, the Washington Post said Thursday.
Waterboarding involves first the placement of a cloth on an immobilized, supine subject’s face and then the pouring of water over the cloth. By making breathing difficult, it forces the subject to feel as though he or she is drowning. U.S. President Barack Obama has deemed the practice to be torture.
The Islamic State militants who carried out the torture “knew exactly how it was done,” a source with direct knowledge of the hostages’ treatment told the Washington Post. The same source said the hostages were held in Raqqa, a north-central city in Syria.
Another source cited by the Post confirmed Foley “suffered a lot of physical abuse,” including waterboarding. Neither the CIA nor the FBI commented officially about the reported waterboarding, the Post said.
Foley was held captive between November 2012 and his beheading this month by ISIS in a shocking video.
“ISIL is a group that routinely crucifies and beheads people,” a U.S. official told the Post. “To suggest that there is any correlation between ISIL’s brutality and past U.S. actions is ridiculous and feeds into their twisted propaganda.” ISIL is another acronym associated with the Islamic State.
French journalist Didier Francois, who was held captive with Foley before his eventual release, has said ISIS picked on Foley in particular because it found photographs of his brother working for the U.S. Air Force, as noted by the Post.
Francois said Foley was subjected to mock executions, as was reportedly also the case with Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a suspected operative of al Qaeda, during his time in a secret CIA prison. The U.S. Justice Department did not sanction mock executions, as pointed out by the Post.