IS Hostages Subjected To Execution Rehearsals

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An Islamic State defector claims militants routinely subjected foreign hostages to mock executions and gave them Arabic names before they were killed.

Speaking exclusively to Sky News, "Saleh" said he was employed by a Turkish man in the the group to reassure hostages their lives were not in danger – yet he says he always knew they would be killed.

Saleh said the execution rehearsals took place so that when the moment of death finally came the hostages were not expecting to be killed and were relaxed to appeal for their release on camera.

He said: "He would say to me 'say to them, no problem, only video, we don't kill you, we want from your government [to] stop attacking Syria. We don't have any problem with you; you are only our visitors'.

"So they don't worry. Always I say to them 'don't worry, doesn't matter, nothing dangerous for you'. But at the end I was sure [they would die].

"Maybe they [the captors] raise their voice, but without hitting. All the time he say to him 'it's a rehearsal, don't [be] afraid'.

"I will explain. He want, when he will kill you really… [it] don't enter his [hostage's] head. Exactly, of course, you [hostages] should say this message: 'I'm living in ISIS and will stay and continue'."

Saleh worked as a translator before he was employed by IS. He fled across the border to Turkey to escape the group and claims to have looked after a hostage with an English accent.

He said: "This man from England, or Netherlands, I don't know. He was speaking English so nice. Sometimes I don't understand what he say.

"He was with mask. All questions around gun, around job in Syria. 'Who send you to Syria? Who is your partner there? When you came into Syria? Where you stayed in Idlib? In Aleppo?' All thing [the time he] give answer. 'No, I'm press, I'm press'.

"So after that he said to me, the Turkish man, 'don't worry, don’t worry'. After that he was so afraid."

Saleh claimed hostages were given Arabic names to convince them they were amongst friends in order to calm them down. He says Kenji Goto was given the name "Abu Saad".

"ISIS gave the hostages an idea; 'You should be Muslim and come with us'. When I went to the rehearsal he said to [Kenji] Goto 'Abu Saad'. Maybe I was thinking to myself 'maybe they try [find] this name so hard, 'Kenji Goto'.

"Maybe they could not say [Kenji Goto] so [they say] Abu Saad. But when I noticed Goto, when they said Abu Saad to Goto, direct [he] relax."

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