NBC News reported this morning that American journalist James Foley was tortured by his ISIS captors, and the abuses included the use of waterboarding. The initial reporting came yesterday from the Washington Post.
At least four hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State, including an American journalist who was recently executed by the group, were waterboarded in the early part of their captivity, according to people familiar with the treatment of the kidnapped Westerners.James Foley was among the four who were waterboarded several times by Islamic State militants who appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
NBC News added that the terrorists “appeared to be deliberately imitating” the torture technique embraced by the Bush/Cheney administration, which came up with the “enhanced interrogation technique” euphemism to justify waterboarding detainees.
President Obama outlawed the use of waterboarding and related torture techniques in his administration soon after taking office in 2009.
The Post’s report, quoting a person with direct knowledge of what happened to the hostages said of the Islamic State militants, “They knew exactly how it was done.”
It’s worth emphasizing, however, that an unnamed U.S. official told the Post that it’s wrong to make a connection where one may not exist.
“ISIL is a group that routinely crucifies and beheads people,” he/she said of the Islamic State. “To suggest that there is any correlation between ISIL’s brutality and past U.S. actions is ridiculous and feeds into their twisted propaganda.”