Book Title: The ISIS Hostage: One Man’s True Story of 13 Months in Captivity
Author: Puk Damsgard
My Review Rating: 5/5
In May 2013 Daniel Rye, a freelancer photographer leaves for a short trip to Syria to capture through photographs the lives of people living in a warn torn country. He arranges for his trip through a local fixer in Turkey. However, things do not go as planned and shortly upon entering the country he is taken into captivity by ISIS and kept hostage in various parts of the city. The treatment meted out to him by the ISIS will leave you baffled wondering how he managed to survive. He is given the most inhumane treatment one can even think of (disgusting sanitary conditions, torture, constant beatings, hunger and never ending death threats) and is on the verge on committing suicide. He meets and is joined by hostages from various countries such as UK, France, USA and Russia. Ironically one of his captors was “Jihadi” John whom the hostages used to refer as George from The Beatles. During those times John was virtually unknown to the outside world but came to prominence in 2015 when ISIS started publicising the beheadings of its hostages with John standing next.
The ISIS demanded Euro 2 Million as Ransom for his release and that to all to be paid in cash in Euro 500 denominations. The family worked hard all day and night to raise the money as it was beyond their means. The book also mentions about the conflicts amongst various countries in securing the release of its citizens who are kidnapped for ransom. While countries such as Spain & France regularly paid ransom to get their citizen released, others such as USA, UK & Denmark are against paying off ranson to the terrorist groups. This led to a few of his fellow hostages getting released while a few getting executed. Eventually, the family collected the money and paid to the Islamist State and finally on 19th June 2014 Daniel tasted freedom after almost 13 months in captivity.
The author has done extensive research and beautifully narrates the role of Daniel’s parents, sisters and security consultant – all of whom played a pivotal role in securing his release. The book is interesting and an excellent read but is sad as you go along and start associating yourself with Daniel. It’s really tough to imagine what all he must have gone through (both mentally & physically) and it does send a chill down your spine. Finally, if you want to get insights into the brutal world of the Islamist State while sitting from the comfort of your room then this book is a must go to.