British Hostage Cantlie Remains 'Star' Hostage in IS Videos
British hostage John Cantlie
NEW DELHI: British photojournalist John Cantlie appears in his seventh video, released by the Islamic State (IS) on Saturday. In the video, Cantlie speaks of "accepting his fate" and blames the western coalition’s failed rescue attempts and the British government’s unwillingness to negotiate for his impending execution.
The video, like previous IS videos, is well shot and well produced, positioned as a morality lesson for the west. Cantlie says, “In this program I will tell you about a failed raid to rescue us and how it feels to be left for dead by your own government… On July 4, Independence Day, the Americans did try to get us out of prison. Not by negotiation or prisoner exchange but by an incredibly complex, risky and expensive rescue attempt that failed.”
Cantlie goes on to blame his government, and not captors, for his situation. “Obama and Cameron act all shocked and appalled each time one of us is killed, but they have known this was coming for months,” he says.
This has been a regular threat in Cantlie’s video and print appearances -- where he has hit out --or been made to hit out---at western governments for his situation as an IS captive.
In his previous video appearance, Cantlie appeared in the Syrian-Turkish border town of Kobani -- where the IS militants are battling Kurdish militias, and US-led coalition forces are bombing IS strongholds. In the video, Cantlie appeared on his own, and, in addition to the status of Kobani, spoke of the half billion dollars that the US has spent on the air campaign against the IS. "Now the battle for Kobani is coming to an end," Cantlie said, adding that "the mujahideen are just mopping up now, street to street, and building to building.”
The Briton has also, allegedly, penned an article in the group’s English-language magazine, ‘Dabiq’. The article, like the videos Cantlie has appeared in, pointed a finger at the United States and the United Kingdom for not negotiating the possibilities of the release of previous IS victims, namely, US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning.
Cantlie had even responded to this allegation of scripted videos in his article, saying, “One observation is that the videos are scripted, and that perhaps I have no choice in the content.” “This is not true,” ‘Cantlie’ asserted, adding, “The mujahideen suggest initial titles, I write the scripts, hand them over for any copy changes that need to be made and the videos are shot.”
This newest video, however, follows the execution of a fifth western hostage -- American aid worker Peter Kassig. Kassig ppeared at the end of video showing the death of Henning, which, going by the videos of executions released by the group, pointed to the fact that Kassig would be next in line. However, no hostage appears at the end of the Kassig execution video, which, in turn, marks a clear departure from the style of the previous execution videos.
Cantlie is the only hostage to appear in non-execution videos, and the only one to have penned an article.