A Frenchman who was held captive with murdered American journalist James Foley for months said today he has a ‘rough’ idea who his executioner is.
Didier Francois said a video of the suspected British jihadist stirred painful memories of being chained up in the dark with Mr Foley and other ISIS hostages in Syria.
It came as a former MI6 chief said the British jihadist will be identified and the SAS will be sent to Syria to ‘bring him to justice’.
The suspect accused of murdering the reporter has been named as ‘John’ - one of a gang of British jihadis known as ‘The Beatles’ who are guarding western hostages for ISIS.
Mr Francois, a 53-year-old reporter with radio station Europe 1, said: ‘Recognised is a very big word, but I see roughly who it is.’
Manhunt: Face of the masked British killer from the IS video who is now considered the world’s most wanted man
Didier Francois, former French hostage and journalist, as he was freed in April
Manhunt: The face of the masked British killer from the IS video, who Didier Francois, a Frenchman held captive by him and pictured on his release in April, says has a ‘rough’ idea of who he is
For two-and-a-half months, Mr Francois was chained to fellow French hostages, Nicolas Henin, Edouard Elias, and Pierre Torres. They were released in April after France paid a ransom.
Mr Henin said today that Mr Foley was beaten more than any other hostage because he was an American and ISIS knew his brother was in the U.S. Air Force, and in one incident he was ‘crucified against a wall’, it has emerged.
The killer spoke in a distinctive English accent and his eyes and build are clearly visible in a propaganda video in which he cuts Mr Foley’s head off.
Mr Francois spent eight months with Mr Foley as a captive in Syria, enduring most of that time in underground cells with no natural light.
Mr Francois said he had never spoken publicly about James Foley or the remaining American hostage, Steven Sotloff, before because of threats of reprisals.
Mr Francois said he was told by his captors: ‘If you make public the fact they are being held or that you were together, reprisals will follow against them. Their exact words were: “They’ll be punished”’.
Mr Foley had been singled out for beatings, said Mr Francois, after his captors found pictures on his computer of his brother, who works for the US Air Force.
He said that Mr Foley was subjected to mock executions, including one in which he was ‘crucified against a wall’.
Paying tribute to the American, Mr Francois said: ‘He was an extraordinary guy – a companion in imprisonment who was very agreeable, very solid.’
He said: ‘We spent seven months in a very extreme situation together, including for one week we were handcuffed one to the other day and night.
‘In circumstances where you are held captive you develop some kind of survival instincts, meaning that, for instance, you try to grab everything that you can find.
‘James was the total opposite. He was so truly generous. Basically everything he could share, he would share it. If we were cold, and we were missing blankets, he would share his blanket.
‘If we were starving and missing food, he would share his ration.’
Richard Barrett, who was head of counter-terrorism for the security services at the time of 9/11, said he is convinced the murderer - now considered the world’s most wanted man - will be arrested and taken back to Britain for trial ‘sooner or later’.
Mr Barratt told the Today Programme: ‘They will be able to identify him, although there are four or five hundred people who have gone from all over the United Kingdom many of them have made their presence there known.
‘I think the community will be able recognise this person and I am sure many in the community will be keen to do so.
‘I mean the intelligence community certainly but also the community from which this man comes, he will have had many acquaintances and friends in the United Kingdom and those people will wish to see him brought to justice.’
He agreed that once he is identified the course of action would likely be to send special forces to grab him.
He added: ‘This is probably a relatively young man and he has a relatively long life ahead of him, perhaps, if he doesn’t get killed quickly in Iraq or Syria and therefore sooner or later he is going to be vulnerable to arrest or some sort interdiction and brought before the courts’
‘I don’t think anyone is prepared to forget this sort of crime and therefore the long arm of justice will eventually catch him.’
A massive manhunt has been launched after a former hostage said he believed the masked Islamic State maniac was a Londoner he had known as ‘John’.
The security services are also close to establishing the identity of the killer who cut James Foley’s throat in a horrific propaganda video.