Ex-hostage: I may know Jihadist John

James Foley

French journalist who was freed in April believes he recognises ISIS militant who beheaded American James Foley

A FRENCH journalist who was held hostage by Islamic State militants says he believes he may know the identity of the jihadist who murdered American James Foley.

Didier François, who was one of four kidnapped journalists who were freed in in April, told Europe 1 radio that he had, “a rough idea” who the executioner is.

The killer has been identified as a Briton, and nicknamed “Jihadist John”, but Mr François refused go into details.

He told the radio station that he and his fellow hostages had made no public statements about freelance photojournalist Mr Foley, or fellow hostage Steven Sotloff, because they had been warned of reprisals.

Mr François said he had was told the Americans “will be punished”, if he revealed publicly that he had been held with them.

“We contacted the families of the kidnapped and the American authorities, but publicly we decided to keep quiet,” he said.

Following Mr Foley’s beheading, the jihadists warned that Mr Sotloff’s life was also in danger unless the US stopped attacking Islamic State targets in Iraq.

Mr François also told i-Tele that Mr Foley, like the other hostages, had been subjected to mock executions. Once, he said, Mr Foley was “made to pose as if he was being crucified against a wall”.

He added that he believed Mr Foley was singled out for particularly brutal treatment after the kidnappers saw pictures of his brother on his computer and worked out that he was in the US Air Force.

Mr Francois’ revelations came as the details of a final email sent to Mr Foley’s parents - and published yesterday by the Global Post, one of the papers he worked with - that told them he would be killed, a matter of days before the video of his execution was posted online.

Mr Foley’s captors wrote: “You and your citizens will pay the price of your bombings! The first of which being the blood of the American citizen, James Foley!

“He will be executed as a direct result of your transgressions towards us!”

Earlier, it emerged that, in November 2013, they had demanded €100m for his release.

Mr François described Mr Foley as “one of the pillars” of the group of hostages and said that he, “never cracked, even under the most difficult conditions”.

Photo: user10 / Wikipedia Commons

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