Ex-hostage recounts ordeal at trial of Islamic State jihadist

El Shafee Elsheikh

A former hostage has testified in a US court that he was subject to beatings and given dog names by his Islamic State captors.

Federico Motka, an Italian aid worker, was one of dozens of hostages held in harsh captivity by the group in Syria.

El Shafee Elsheikh, 33, is standing trial in Virginia accused of hostage-taking and conspiracy to commit murder as part of a notorious militant cell.

They were known as the Beatles because of their British accents.

Mr Elsheikh has denied being part of the group.

In court on Wednesday, Mr Motka testified that he was repeatedly beaten, held in isolation in what hostages dubbed “the box” and put into stress positions during the 14 months he was held by the group. He was once beaten with a rubber cable for an hour .

The aid worker said the Beatles were fond of “playing games” with their hostages.

“They gave us dog names,” he said. “We needed to come and immediately respond.”

Prosecutors allege that Mr Elsheikh’s actions resulted in the death of four US hostages, including journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig.