Witnesses describe hostages’ despair at Brit’s terror trial

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — By Could 2014, American hostage Peter Kassig was dropping hope that he would survive his captivity at the arms of the Islamic State group.

“Dad, I’m paralyzed here. I’m afraid to fight back. Part of me still has hope. Part of me is sure I’m going to die,” he wrote to his father, Ed Kassig, who learn the letter from the witness stand Wednesday at the terrorism trial of British nationwide El Shafee Elsheikh.

The testimony left many within the courtroom combating again tears in what’s to this point been a two-week trial that has detailed in ugly methods the brutality inflicted on greater than 20 Western hostages held captive by the Islamic State roughly a decade in the past.

Even the decide, T.S. Ellis III, gave the impression to be combating again tears as he referred to as an early recess within the proceedings instantly following Kassig’s testimony.

Elsheikh — higher generally known as certainly one of “the Beatles,” a moniker given by the hostages to a number of of their captors who spoke with distinctive British accents — is accused of taking a number one function within the hostage-taking scheme that resulted within the deaths of 4 Individuals: Kassig, James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Kayla Mueller. Kassig, Foley and Sotloff have been beheaded in movies distributed the world over. Mueller was raped by Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi earlier than she was killed.

Kassig’s lengthy, handwritten letter was delivered to his household by a launched hostage. Peter Kassig wrote that his captors tried to inform him and the opposite hostages that that they had been deserted by their households and their international locations for refusing to fulfill the Islamic State’s calls for.

“However after all we all know you might be doing every thing you’ll be able to and extra. Don’t fret Dad, if I do go down I will not go pondering something however what I do know to be true, that you simply and Mother love me greater than the moon!” Peter Kassig wrote.

He wrote that “if I do die, I figure that at least you and I can take some refuge and comfort in knowing that I went out as a result of trying to alleviate suffering and helping those in need.”

Kassig, an assist employee, was taken hostage in Syria in 2013. He had began his personal nonprofit group to supply medical coaching and provides to areas past the attain of a few of the bigger assist teams.

Additionally Wednesday, the jury heard testimony from an FBI agent who helped plan an effort to rescue hostages in July 2014 that finally failed as a result of the hostages had been moved from a desert jail south of Raqqa earlier than the rescue try.

And so they heard testimony from French hostage Nicolas Henin, who survived 300 days of captivity earlier than his launch in 2014. Below questioning from First Assistant U.S. Lawyer Raj Parekh, Henin described escaping a number of days after he was taken hostage, and the torture inflicted on him when he was recaptured.

Henin mentioned he requested his guards for a brush to wash up his cell, and he used the broom to assist knock unfastened the bars masking a window. He crawled by way of the window in the course of the night time and ran for miles throughout the Syrian desert till he got here to a village close to the town of Raqqa, an Islamic State stronghold, the place he sought assist.

“I met two people in pajamas,” he mentioned. “Unfortunately you can’t recognize an ISIS fighter in their pajamas. They took me to the local police station.”

The authorities returned him to his captors, who beat him, strung him up within the air dangling from handcuffs that dug into his flesh within the Syrian solar, and at last left him in a cell for 11 days together with his wrists chained to his ankles.

In his later months of captivity, he got here throughout the Beatles, who have been already acknowledged by his fellow hostages as notably sadistic. He mentioned the three Beatles would commonly inflict beatings, and that the Beatle they dubbed “Ringo” would regularly lecture the hostages on the justification for his or her captivity.

“They were trying to explain to us that even though we were not carrying weapons, we were still somehow a kind of fighter in the war between the infidel West and Islam,” Henin mentioned.

Prosecutors have mentioned that Elsheikh is “Ringo,” although not one of the hostages who has but testified has been in a position to explicitly establish him. Witnesses have mentioned all of the Beatles took nice pains to maintain their faces totally masked after they have been in touch with the hostages.

“They liked to consider that as long as they were masked, they were protected from prosecution. This was maybe a stupid idea,” Henin mentioned, grinning broadly within the path of Elsheikh, who sat simply toes from him at the protection desk.

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