A video released by the Islamic State on Thursday features a captive British journalist telling viewers that the Western press lies about IS and that Western governments should negotiate for their citizens’ release.
In a YouTube video entitled “Lend me your ears,” British reporter John Cantlie encourages British and Americans to oppose military action against IS and accuses the media of distorting facts about IS to drum up support for war. YouTube removed the video shortly after it was uploaded, citing a violation of its violence policy.
“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 forced to do this,'” Cantlie says, gesturing with his hand to indicate a gun pointed at his head.
“I am a prisoner, that I cannot deny. But seeing as I’ve been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic State, I have nothing to lose,” he says.
Unlike previous IS videos of Anglophone captives, Cantlie is not held at knifepoint, and no IS fighters appear onscreen.
Cantlie mentions in the video that he was captured by IS after coming to Syria in 2012, but doesn’t inform viewers that he was previously kidnapped and released by a group of Islamist extremists in Syria in July 2012. Cantlie returned to Syria after his release, reportedly with executed reporter James Foley, and has been held captive by IS since.
— Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai) August 21, 2014
He says the video was part of a new series of clips. Recent months have seen a series of three videos released by IS depicting the beheadings of US reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines.
“I want to take this opportunity to convey some facts that you can verify, facts that, if you contemplate, might help in preserving lives,” he says, acknowledging that his own life might be at risk.
Cantlie says in the three-minute video that Western media “twist and manipulate” the truth about the Islamic State and are working 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 are so keen to get involved in yet another unwinnable conflict?” he asks.
The video appeared on the Internet days after the US government approved training for Syrian rebel groups, and a week after US President Barack Obama laid out his plan for an American campaign against the radical Islamist group controlling large swaths of western Iraq and eastern Syria.
Cantlie says that over the course of the video series, he will present the truth about IS. “There are two sides to every story. Think you’re getting the whole picture?”
“It’s very alarming to see where this is all headed, and it looks like history repeating itself, yet again,” he says. “There is time to change this seemingly inevitable sequence of events, but only if you, the public, act now.”