A French journalist, who was held hostage in Syria by Islamic State militants and later released, has identified one of his former captors as a man awaiting trial in Belgium for killing four people in a Jewish museum in Brussels.
Nicholas Henin said Mehdi Nemmouche was a brutal captor who delighted in beating hostages and once bragged about beheading a baby.
Henin recently spoke to police as part of an ongoing investigation. He spoke to reporters for the first time Saturday after details from his police interview were leaked to the press.
At the press conference Henin detailed the beatings he received at the hands of Nemmouche, who he said was among his captors from July 2013 to December 2013.
“He was very proud, telling me ‘You saw these motorcycle gloves? I bought them just for you, to punch you in the face. Did you like them?’ That sums up the violent and provocative personality of Mehdi Nemmouche that I frequently saw,” Henin said, according to The Associated Press.
The Telegraph reported some of the details leaked from Henin’s police interview.
He reportedly described Nemmouche to police as a sadist who enjoys publicity and “is awaiting trial with delight.” Henin is also believed to have told police that Nemmouche once bragged to him that he had raped a woman and slit her throat just before he beheaded the woman’s baby.
“It’s such a pleasure to cut off a baby’s head,” Nemmouche said, according to Henin’s police interview.
After leaving Syria, Nemmouche made his way back to Europe. In May 2014 the French jihadist allegedly walked into the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels and opened fire. The melee left four dead.
He was later arrested in France and extradited to Belgium. He is charged with “murder in a terrorist context” but denies the charges.
Henin was released April 20 after being held captive for 10 months, according to the Australian Broadcasting Company. He was released along with three other French journalists — Didier Francois, Edouard Elias and Pierre Torres.
The group was held for a time with American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both of whom were recently beheaded in videos posted to social media sites.
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