ISIS Hostage John Cantlie Gives A Chilling Report In New Video
A new video from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria surfaced online late on Monday, and the contents are bewildering. The ISIS video features British hostage John Cantlie, who has appeared in previous propaganda videos from the terrorist group, purporting to report as a sort of news correspondent. Cantlie is shown near Kobani, a besieged Syrian town near the Turkish border that has endured heavy fighting over the last few weeks. There have been conflicted reports about the status of Kobani, and Cantlie reports in the video that the town is now under ISIS control.
Dressed all in black, Cantlie opens the video, which is still being confirmed by authorities, saying he's standing in Kobani, not far from the Syrian border in the so-called "PKK safe zone," which he claims is now controlled by the Islamic militants. Over the course of his five-minute report, Cantlie moves to a rooftop overlooking the Syrian city. His speech is inter-cut with aerial footage of Kobani, reportedly taken by an ISIS drone, and brief shots of soldiers walking the streets.
Cantlie uses the video to refute Western media reports that ISIS soldiers have been retreating from the area in recent days. The British hostage reports:
[ISIS] now controls the eastern and southern sectors [of Kobani]. Now, what the Western media — and I haven't seen any of their journalists here in the city of Kobani — have been saying recently is that the Islamic State is on the retreat. In the last 48 hours, hundreds of Islamic State militants have been reportedly killed in airstrikes. ... But the point is, from where I'm standing right now, I can see large swaths of the city. I can even see the Turkish flag behind me. And all I can see here in the city of Kobani are mujahedeen [ISIS fighters].
Cantlie contends he hasn't seen any Iraqi or Syrian Kurdish fighters in Kobani, and that ISIS fighters are "definitely not on the run." The British photojournalist, who was abducted by the militants in 2012 along with slain American photojournalist James Foley, goes on to say that, because there are no journalists in the city, reporters are receiving their allegedly biased information from "Kurdish commanders and White House press secretaries."
This new video contradict many media reports — some of which Cantlie names — that have claimed the fight for Kobani has strengthened. CNN reported just last week that 200 Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were being sent to the city via Turkey to support the Syrian Kurds. The announcement was made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Riga, Latvia, last Wednesday. Other media reports, from The New York Times to The Guardian, have said the battle in Kobani raged. However, Cantlie disagreed, claiming the battle was "nearly over" — and ISIS won. "As you can hear, it is very quiet, just the occasional gunfire," Cantlie reports.
This latest ISIS propaganda video is a departure for Cantlie, who has previously appeared gaunt and pale, clad in orange jumpsuits similar to those worn by slain hostages Foley, Steven Sotloff, Alan Henning and David Haines. Cantlie appears confident and clear-eyed here, but experts insist he's under duress, presumably forced to read off a script and his life threatened.
Images: screenshots/ISIS video