Video of British hostage John Cantlie released

  • 18 September 2014
  • From the section UK
Media captionBBC Security Correspondent Gordon Corera: "In the video, a British journalist John Cantlie says that he is a prisoner and that his life hangs in the balance"

A new video has been released showing a British man believed to be held hostage by Islamic State (IS) militants.

The man says he is journalist John Cantlie and that he is a prisoner.

Dressed in orange, Mr Cantlie, who in 2012 escaped an earlier kidnapping in Syria, asks why he and others have been abandoned by the US and UK governments.

IS has recently killed three hostages and, in a video showing the death of UK aid worker David Haines, threatened to kill British man Alan Henning next.

'Unwinnable conflict'

No IS militants are seen in the video, which is entitled "Lend Me Your Ears" and is addressed to the Western public.

Image copyright John Cantlie
Image caption The video of John Cantlie, pictured, is released nearly a week after footage depicting the Mr Haines's death

In it Mr Cantlie says other European governments have negotiated for the release of their hostages but says the US and UK have done things differently.

"After two disastrous and hugely unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, why is it that our governments appear so keen to get involved in yet another unwinnable conflict?" he says.

He also says this is the first of several of what he calls programmes in which he will explain the philosophy of IS.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said parts of it were like a "kind of parody of a chat show" and "very much a propaganda video".

"It doesn't end with any overt threat. He's reading from a script, there's no knife or gun being held to his head," our correspondent said.

He added that previous IS videos were directed at US and UK leaders, but this was meant for the British public, particularly Muslims.

The message of the video is that IS has been "misrepresented by the Western media", and the hostage says he is going to be revealing the truth about IS in "the coming programmes", our correspondent added.

From comments on the tape, it is clear it was made this year, but not precisely when.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption BBC's Frank Gardner says Mr Cantlie, pictured in this still from the video, speaks "under duress"

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described IS as a "murderous, medieval, terrorist outfit".

"We didn't need any reminding that what we're dealing with here in Isil is a movement of almost unprecedented barbarity and cynicism," said Mr Clegg, who has not yet seen the video.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he would "look very closely" at any material released on the internet.

He said videos such as these could be "very distressing" to the families of the individuals involved.

Who is John Cantlie?

  • An experienced journalist and photographer, Mr Cantlie has reported from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia, with his work appearing in national and international titles, including the Sunday Times, the Sunday Telegraph, Esquire, GQ and Top Gear magazine
  • This is his second time being held captive in Syria - having been kidnapped in July 2012 and handcuffed and blindfolded for a week, before he escaped with the help from the Free Syrian Army
  • He returned to Syria towards the end of 2012 and it was during this trip that his second kidnap occurred. It is believed he was with US journalist James Foley, who has since been killed, when he was seized

The video featuring Mr Cantlie has been released nearly a week after footage depicting the death of Mr Haines, the first British hostage to be killed.

It was in that video that the life of Mr Henning, 47, from Salford, was threatened.

Mr Henning was a volunteer on an aid convoy in December 2013 when he was seized just after crossing into Syria.

Earlier, British Muslim leaders called for his immediate release, saying anyone undertaking a humanitarian act should be held in the highest esteem.

The video of Mr Haines's death followed the killings of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff - which were also shown in videos - in August and earlier this month respectively.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Alan Henning was on an aid mission when he was seized
Image copyright AP/Reuters
Image caption US journalists James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines have been killed

On Tuesday, IS released a separate video, which was described by analysts as a video response to US air strikes.

The slickly produced, Hollywood-style trailer for a film entitled "Flames of War" refers to US President Barack Obama's insistence that US combat troops would not be returning to fight in Iraq.

In an apparent taunt, it depicts wounded US troops, masked executioners standing over kneeling captives, and declares at the conclusion: "Fighting has just begun."

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