British journalist John Cantlie, who has been missing since 2012, appeared in a new video released by ISIS today. (The video has not yet been verified by officials.) Cantlie worked for The Sunday Times, The Sun, and The Sunday Telegraph. Unlike the graphic beheading videos of journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and aid worker David Haines, this video is not a violent attack, but an anchored propaganda show titled "Lend me your ears." Sitting behind a desk, Cantlie speaks about the Islamic State's war with the Western world and notes that this will become a recurring show.
In the video, Cantlie says,
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 IS to include large areas of eastern Syria and western Iraq, a land mass bigger than Britain and many other nations. Now, 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, right? Well, it is true, 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. Maybe I will live and maybe I will die."
Cantlie then goes on to say his "show" will show what the Western media "manipulates." He will also be discussing how hostage negotiations were handled between ISIS and other nations. (Many nations are willing to pay for hostages, but the United States and United Kingdom strongly oppose this.)
Cantlie was actually kidnapped twice while covering the war in Syria. The first abduction reportedly happened in July 2012, when he was held for about a week before being released. Cantlie returned to Syria in the fall and was kidnapped again in November 2012.
When Cantlie was freed, he was with Dutch journalist Jeroen Oerlemans. The two were held in a jihadist camp and were allowed to leave when fighters showed up at their location; Oerlemans believed the fighters were from the Free Syrian Army. According to a post on Oerlemans Facebook page, Oerlemans and James Foley were held captive together. "James Foley, an American journalist who helped a lot when I was kidnapped, has been beheaded by IS yesterday," he wrote on August 20. This opens the possibility that Cantlie was also imprisoned with James Foley for some of his time in captivity.
While the video is obviously propaganda released by the Islamic State, right in tune with yesterday's movie trailer-style video, it does provide an interesting clue to "Jihadi John," the executioner shown in the three ISIS beheading videos.
In August 2012, Shajul Islam, a doctor from East London, was arrested and charged with kidnapping Cantlie. However, a lack of evidence freed him from punishment. Islam was charged, along with Jubayer Chowdhury, and according to The Telegraph, the men "are the only British jihadists charged with kidnapping Westerners in Syria." Sources told The Telegraph they believe Islam and Chowdhury may know who "Jihadi John" is based on their time in Syria and their connection to the jihadist movement.
Razul Islam, Shajul's brother, is also reportedly one of the possible suspects who could be "Jihadi John," the man who executed Foley and Sotloff. Investigators questioned Shajul about his brother after James Foley's beheading in August. Intelligence officers believe Shajul Islam may have ran into Foley during his time in Syria, providing more clues as to how ISIS runs their hostage program.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he had been notified of the video, "These videos can be very distressing for the families of the individuals involved."