A FORMER foreign correspondent, kidnapped by the Taliban in the wake of the September 11 attacks, has revealed how she offered to hand herself over to Islamic State in an attempt to save the life of Scottish hostage David Haines.

Yvonne Ridley, who was taken captive in Afghanistan 15 years ago this month, has revealed that she contacted Isis through intermediaries in an attempt to negotiate the release of Scottish aid worker David Haines, who was killed by his captors in September 2014.

Ridley, who is due to launch her new book, Does Torture Work, later this month, said she had also been involved in successful hostage negotiations with the Taliban in about six other cases.

Though stating that she supported the UK Government's stance not to negotiate with hostages or pay ransom money, she called on the Foreign Office to support families, friends and employers to do everything they could to try to secure the release of their loved ones. Families, including the Haines, are advised not to speak out.

The journalist, who converted to Islam after her release and is known for her strong criticism of Western foreign policy, said she was moved to get involved with David Haines' case while travelling in South Africa with an Islamic contact who suggested that she could offer herself in exchange.

Ridley, who lives in the Borders, said: "What resonated was he was born just an hour from where I now live in Scotland and he had a young daughter." Her own daughter was nine was she was kidnapped.

"I was talking to someone who was very knowledgeable about Islam. I said I wished there was something I could do and he suggested an Islamic intercession, in which I could offer to swap places with him.

"In the cold light of day it seems crazy but we got a message out using websites in the Middle East to say I was offering to swap places with him as part of an Islamic intervention and if there was anything Islamic about the Islamic State they would appreciate this and they would agree."

However rebel Syrian groups advised her not to go ahead claiming Islamic State would only take her hostage too and that it would lead to "certain death".

In other cases she has held discussions with senior Taliban figures. "I say to them you showed me respect when you held me and here I am talking about that, and that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been released," she added. "I have converted to Islam and that would never have happened if I had been killed."

Her own release – 11 days after her capture – came when hostage-takers were passed detailed and translated evidence by her employers to convince her captors that she was not a spy, a charge made against her – carrying a death penalty – because she was carrying a camera when caught. She said that her greatest fear, during the terrifying ordeal, was that she might be tortured.

"If a government makes a decision that it will not sit down and negotiate with terrorists I do understand that and I can appreciate that," she said. "I think that stance is right. However I don't think that should stop friends, relatives or employers from doing whatever they can to try to get a person out of a hostage situation."

While she was held hostage her mother, on the advice of a friend, held daily press conferences though Ridley claims she was told by the Blair government not to give interviews.

The security and intelligence services claim that press coverage can be dangerous as it might contradict the back stories hostages have given their captors and can prolong the ordeal as the publicity can increase their value to hostage takers.

However, Ridley insisted that she was "living proof" that inventions can work and claimed that it was only after the friends of journalist John McCarthy – taken hostage in Beirut – who had been advised not to publicly campaign, began speaking out in earnest that he was released in 1991, more than five years after he had been kidnapped.

In her new books she calls for an end to torture as part of the so-called "war on terror" which she said was "building up a legacy of hatred", and for the UK to develop an ethical foreign policy, something which she hopes might be possible in an independent Scotland. Ridley moved to the Scotland five years ago.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "Our priority in kidnap cases is to protect the life of the hostage, and ultimately do everything we can to secure their safe release without terrorist groups benefiting.

"Our policy on ransom is long-standing and clear. The payment of ransoms to terrorist groups fuels the terrorist threat against the UK and our allies, and leads directly to further kidnappings, endangering the lives of our citizens who live, work and travel abroad."

She declined to comment on the support offered to families of hostages or other operational matters.

Does Torture Work is available from September 13