British hostage John Cantlie was brutally tortured by a British jihadi in Syria whom he nicknamed ‘Pinocchio’ because he always lied, court documents reveal.
Mr Cantlie, a 43-year-old photojournalist from Surrey, is believed to be the last British hostage held by the Islamic State who is still alive.
He was captured when he went to report in Syria two years ago and has recently been forced to appear in propaganda videos for the terror group.
Now in the most detailed account yet of the conditions of his captivity under the Islamic State, court documents reveal Mr Cantlie was:
- Captured by an Al Qaeda-affiliated terror group that later merged with Islamic State.
- Held with US journalist James Foley (who was later beheaded) in a cramped cell in Aleppo, Syria, where they were left starving and given dirty water to drink.
- Badly tortured by ‘Pinocchio’ and other guards known as the ‘butcher’ and ‘the butcher’s assistant’.
- Waterboarded, given electric shocks, hit with blunt instruments and made to stand up for three days at a time, leaving him so delirious he didn’t know where he was.
The new testimony was provided by a Belgian who was held captive with Mr Cantlie and Mr Foley between August and September 2013.
In an interview with Belgian police, seen by The Mail on Sunday, Jejoen Bontinck, 19, says that ‘Pinocchio’ was one of the guards who tortured Cantlie and Foley while they were held in an IS prison near Aleppo.
Describing the guard, he says: ‘He came from Great Britain and had dark skin – he was of Pakistani or Bengali origin.’
Bontinck was part of an extremist group linked to IS. When he tried to leave the group, they imprisoned him and accused him of spying. His father travelled to Syria last year and helped negotiate his release.
But Bontinck is now a defendant in a court case in Belgium in which 46 suspects are accused of being part of a banned group, Sharia4Belgium, whose members have gone to Syria to fight.
Bontinck says a second torturer at the IS prison was called Abu Horeia, whom Cantlie and Foley nicknamed ‘very good’. Bontinck explains: ‘They called him “very good” because they once saw him torture someone and he then said “very good”.’
Bontinck also claimed the two journalists were moved on several occasions and ‘tortured’ while ‘barely getting enough to eat’, before they were handed over to an IS group in Raqqa where Jihadi John and other members of the so-called Beatles are based.
He says the first IS prison complex was next to a sharia court which was in an urban part of Aleppo screened by high buildings.