Latest Islamic State propaganda video depicts British hostage as war correspondent
BY AYAN SHEIKH October 28, 2014 at 3:31 PM EDT
Freelance British photojournalist, John Cantlie — abducted in 2012 along with U.S. journalist James Foley — appears in the Islamic State’s latest video as a foreign correspondent reporting from the Syrian town of Kobani, the New York Times reported.
The video was released late Monday evening, but the timing and authenticity of the video have not been verified. The British Foreign Office said they are in the process of analyzing the content.
The five-and-a-half-minute video is titled “Inside Ayn-Al-Islam” and begins with an aerial view of the embattled town through an ISIS drone, with artillery gunshots going off in the background. The group is claiming that they are close to capturing the Syrian town located near the Turkish border.
And despite Kobani being known as Ayn-Al-Arab in Arabic, the terrorist group refers to the Syrian town as Ain-Al-Islam.
Cantlie then appears on the screen, dressed in all black and introduces himself.
“Hello, I’m John Cantlie, and today we’re in the city of Kobani on the Syrian-Turkish border. That is in fact Turkey right behind me,” he says. “We are here in the heart of the so-called PKK safe zone, which is now controlled entirely by the Islamic State.”
Through the duration of the propaganda video message, Cantlie goes on to mock and denounce the progress made by U.S.-led airstrikes and Kurdish force. He also discredits the reports of the withdrawal of IS fighters from several neighborhoods in Kobani by Western media that include the International Business Times and the BBC, among others.
“We know we’ve killed several hundred of them, said John Kirby, the Pentagon official,” Cantlie quotes the Rear admiral. “The Islamic State is retreating from the Syrian city of Kobani said the BBC on October 17,” he says.
Referring to IS fighters as Mujahideen, Cantlie says they are “mopping up now, street to street, and building to building.”
This isn’t Cantlie’s first appearance in an IS propaganda video. The militant group has used the British freelance photojournalist in several other videos, often featured as thegroup’s spokesman.
Islamic State has beheaded four hostages, two American journalists and two British nationals.
Mr Cantlie’s latest appearance, in which he delivers in scathing tones an account of the battle for Kobane at odds with that of western media, shows that for the time being at least he has been singled out for a different fate.
In an online jihadist magazine, he wrote that the first set of videos – of which there were said to be eight in total – were filmed quickly some weeks ago.
This new video is shot recently. It refers to events that took place in the last few days, such as the American air drop of supplies to the Kurds, a crate of which – Mr Cantlie says two – fell into Isil’s hands by mistake.
Mr Cantlie’s appearance is strikingly different. His hair and beard have grown out, and seem to have been dyed, since there is no longer any trace of grey.
His moustache has been shaved, in line with the fashion adopted by Salafi, or purist Muslims. Isil’s ideology is Salafi by nature.
It is not clear whether this is a disguise, to prevent him being identified by locals or by American drones, or to indicate that he has converted to Islam, as some other captives have done.
He calls Kobane “Ayn al-Islam” – changing the town’s Arab name from Ayn al-Arab, Spring of the Arabs.
He points to the lack of western journalists in the town, and says their reports on Kurdish successes are based on information from “Kurdish commanders and White House press secretaries, neither of whom have the slightest intention to tell the truth”.
He does admit that the air strikes “which cost half a billion dollars” prevent Isil using its heavy armour such as tanks. But that, he says, has turned the battle into a street-by-street example of urban warfare, which is “something of a speciality of the muhajeddin”.