One of the many elements surrounding the Islamic State's horrific beheadings has been questions surrounding why — and how — the victims appear so calm just seconds before dying.
A French journalist who was once held by the terror group believes that the captives likely didn't realize what was about to happen.
Europe 1 radio reporter Didier Francois, 53, who was released earlier this year after 10 months of confinement with the Islamic State, said that militants put captives through a number of mock executions and, as a result, they were worn down and didn't know what was to come, according to the Daily Mail.
"They did not realize that this time it was the real thing," he said.
Francois claimed last month that he saw James Foley, an American journalist with whom he was detained, being forced to stand against a wall and pose as though "he had been crucified" before his death.
Observers have also pondered how the three victims — British aid worker David Haines and American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff — remained composed in light of their horrific circumstances, which were recorded by the terror group.
"All three men have appeared to display a quiet acceptance of their fate, leading to speculation that they either did not realize what awaited them or, that after a long and desperate confinement, any release was preferable to remaining in the hands of their tormentors," the Guardian's Martin Chulov wrote Sunday.
One diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Chulov that the victims appeared to be used to being tortured and threatened with death.
"It seems to me that each of those poor men had been used to mock executions," he said. "They had been forced to do this sort of thing before. This is how depraved this group is."
As for Francois, who was held for 10 months and released in April, he initially remained silent upon returning, keeping quiet for the sake of his former fellow prisoners.
"I never spoke about it publicly because the kidnappers had threatened reprisals on the remaining hostages if we spoke," Francois said in a recent interview. "We contacted the families of the kidnapped and the American authorities, but publicly we decided to keep quiet."
(H/T: Daily Mail)