The ISIS Hostage: My Torturers Were Not Evil

Daniel Rye Ottosen has just returned to the Malawian town of Chikwawa from a week in the bush with a small family, surviving on a bland dough known locally as nsima. The austere diet reminds the 27-year-old Danish freelance photographer of harder times.

“Right now, I am looking forward so much to having a decent meal, to drink cold water. Some of the feelings that I had back in Syria, I can feel it again,” he says, speaking by telephone from a Red Cross office in a rare interview with Newsweek.

Ottosen’s hunger in Syria was not from photographing his subjects, hunkered down in areas ravaged by war, but due to meager and sporadic bites of olives, eggs and bread throughout a 13-month ordeal in squalid captivity at the hands of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). The group kidnapped him on May 18, 2013, at the end of a three-day excursion into Syria, a three-day trip that quickly snowballed into a 13-month nightmare.

It is Ottosen’s imprisonment that serves as the subject of Middle East reporting veteran Puk Damsgård’s The ISIS Hostage: One Man’s True Story of 13 Months in Captivity.

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