Middle East News

UK Journalist John Cantlie Appears On ISIS Video As Spokesman

An unusual propaganda video by the Islamic State released Thursday showed a British journalist appearing to ‘defend’ the extremists and claiming he was doing it on his ‘free will.’

According Haaretz, to John Cantlie, 43, a veteran journalist, was abducted by ISIS militants in Syria in July 2012 together with Dutch photographer Jeroen Oerlemans but both managed to escape two months later with the help of the Free Syrian Army. Cantlie has written for several British newspapers including  The Sunday Times, The Sun and the Daily Telegraph.

Cantlie was taken hostage again in November on that same year and his whereabouts were unknown until he appeared in the video released on Thursday ISIS.

In the video, entitled “Lend Me Your Ears—Messages from the British Detainee John Cantlie”,  Cantlie was shown wearing an orange jumpsuit seated behind a desk in a darkened room. He accused the British government of ‘abandoning’ him, and said he will dispel myths about the extremists in a series of videos. (See full transcription below.)

The three-minute video appeared to be professionally-produced: it used three camera angles, including two close ups, and gave the impression of a talk show, The Huffington Post UK reported.

Cantlie spoke calmly, introduced and gave some background of himself, and explained that he will refute the connotations about the Islamic State propagated in the Western media.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Cantlie said. “You’re thinking ‘he’s only doing this because he’s a prisoner, he’s got a gun at his head and he’s being forced to do this.'”

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– John Cantlie” author_title=”British journalist held by Islamic State”]

It’s true I am a prisoner. But seeing as I’ve been abandoned by my government and my fate lies in the hands of Islamic State, I have nothing to lose,


He implied that the British and the U.S. government should negotiate with the Islamic State like what other European countries did for the release of their citizens held by the group.

Cantlie also urged the public to ‘act now’ so that history would not repeat itself.

The Islamic State has killed three foreign captives, American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines–and uploaded their execution online. These killings have triggered outrage in the West, prompting them to increase military campaign against the militants’ bases in Iraq and Syria.

In an August 2012 article for The Sunday Times, Cantlie accounted his escape in his first captivity:

“I ended up running for my life, barefoot and handcuffed, while British jihadists – young men with south London accents – shot to kill,” Cantlie wrote.

“They were aiming their Kalashnikovs at a British journalist, Londoner against Londoner in a rocky landscape that looked like the Scottish Highlands. Bullets kicking up dirt as I ran. A bullet through my arm, another grazing my ear. And not a Syrian in sight. This wasn’t what I had expected.”

He was shot in the arm during his escape, which left a damaged nerve causing his left hand with limited finger movements.

But despite what happened, Cantlie was eager to go back to Syria’s battlegrounds and cover the war.

“I am itching to get back out there. The only thing stopping me is my cameras, as I lost them out there and need to buy some more,” he said.


Read below the video’s full transcription courtesy of The Huffington Post UK:

Hello, my name is Jon Cantlie. I’m a British journalist who used to work for some of the biggest newspapers and magazines in the UK including the Sunday Times, The Sun and The Sunday Telegraph.

In November 2012, I came to Syria where I was subsequently captured by the Islamic State. Now, nearly two years later, many things have changed, including the expansion of the Islamic State to include large areas of western Syria and eastern Iraq- a landmass bigger than Britain and many other nations.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking ‘he’s only doing this because he’s a prisoner, he’s got a gun at his head and he’s being forced to do this’.

It’s true I am a prisoner. But seeing as I’ve been abandoned by my government and my fate lies in the hands of Islamic State, I have nothing to lose.

Maybe I will live and maybe I will die but I want to take this opportunity to convey some facts that you can verify. Facts that if you contemplate them, might help save lives.

Over the next few programmes, I’m going to show you the truth as the Western media tries to drag the public back to the abyss of another war with the Islamic State.

After two disastrous and hugely unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, why is it that our governments appear so keen to get into another unwinnable conflict?

I’m going to show you the truth behind the systems and motivation of the Islamic State and how the Western media, the very organisation I used to work for, can twist and manipulate that truth for the public back home.

There are two sides to every story. Think you’re getting the whole picture?

And I will show you the truth behind what happened when many European citizens were imprisoned and later released by the Islamic State and how the British and American governments thought they could do it differently from every other European country.

They negotiated with the Islamic State and got their people home while the British and Americans were left behind.

It’s very alarming to see where this is all headed. It seems like history repeating itself, yet again.

There is time to change this seemingly inevitable sequence of events but only if you the public act now. Join me for the next few programs and I think you might be surprised by what you learn.

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