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New Details of Jewish-American Photojournalist Held, Tortured by Syrian Jihadists for Seven Months

A Jewish-American photojournalist was detained and tortured by jihadists in the Syrian city of Aleppo for seven months, after Al Qaeda-linked captured him last December. The New York Times on Friday published a harrowing front-page accoun of Matthew Schrier’s ordeal, including details of repated psychological and physical torture.

Schrier, a 34-year-old from Long Island, was captured by the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra frnt. His kidnappers drained his bank account and sent fake e-mail messages to his family and friends assuring them everything was fine.

In one instance they caught him trying to drill a hole through his cell wall and beat the bottoms of his feet with a metal cable 115 times.

Schrier is one of at least 15 Westerners, mostly journalists, abducted so far this year. The New York Times noted that his experience reflects an overall decline in security, and a spike in extremism:

Now in the United States, Mr. Schrier has returned with a firsthand account of the descent by elements of the anti-Assad forces into sanctimonious hatred and crime. His experience reflects the sharply deteriorated climate for foreigners and moderate Syrians in areas subject to the whims of armed religious groups whose members roam roads, staff checkpoints and occupy a constellation of guerrilla bases.

His experience also suggests the difficult choices for foreign governments that in principle support the rebels’ goal of overthrowing a dictatorship accused of using chemical weapons against civilians, but in practice fear aiding opposition factions that embrace terrorist tactics, intolerant religious rule or the same behaviors — abduction, torture, extralegal detention — that have characterized the Assad family’s reign.

The Times account neglected to comment on Schrier’s Jewishness, or on whether it was relevant to the behavior and motives of his Islamist captors. The Anti-Defamation League has emphasized that anti-Semitism “is intrinsic to Al Qaeda’s ideology and motivation,” and extremist opposition fighters in Syria have threatened to attack Israel.

[Photo: Syrie*Syria* Siria / YouTube]