Italian Hostage Survivor Testifies in U.S. Trial of IS ‘Beatle’ Member

An Italian aid worker, who survived being taken hostage by the Islamic State (IS) “Beatles,” testified on March 31 at the trial against one of the alleged members.

Italian-born Federico Motka, who grew up in the United Kingdom, became the first surviving hostage to testify at the trial of El Shafee Elsheikh, a former British national charged with hostage-taking, conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens, and supporting a foreign terrorist organization.

At the second day of the trial, Motka told the court how he was captured, imprisoned, and tortured by the so-called IS “Beatles” — which was what the hostages came to call them because of their British accent — alongside American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

The four Americans were eventually killed.

Motka said that the IS members forced him and British fellow aid worker David Haines to fight Foley and British journalist John Cantlie until they passed out in what the militant group called a “royal rumble.”

“We were so weak and shattered, we could barely lift our arms,” Motka, who was captured by the IS in Syria in March 2013 and held for 14 months, told the court.

Motka testified that the “Beatles” forced them to “hold stress positions for hours” and waterboarded them with a bucket or a wet sweater.

“That was by far the worst thing that had happened,” Motka said about being waterboarded.

Motka also said that a guard they nicknamed the “Punisher” electrocuted their hands and feet using a stun gun.

Motka is expected to return to the witness stand on April 1.


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