In a new video published today, British journalist John Cantlie, who is being held hostage by the Islamic State after being kidnapped in Syria in 2012, appears to be reporting from the city of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border, which has been the stage of an ongoing battle between the militants and Kurdish forces.
The video, which features aerial views of the war-ravaged city filmed from a drone, is the latest featuring Cantlie, who said in his most recent “Lend Me Your Ears” video that the Islamic State treats its captives “well” and that US and UK governments had abandoned their citizens.
In the new five-minute video titled “Inside ‘Ayn al-Islam” (the name given by the Islamic State to Kobane) and mimicking the style of a traditional newscast, Cantlie claims to be standing in an area known as a Kurdish “safe zone, which is now controlled entirely by the Islamic State,” despite US strikes attempting to stop their advance.
Cantlie speaks in a seemingly relaxed tone, citing recent news reports and Western officials’ statements made as late as October 20.
“The Western media, and I can’t see any of their journalists here in the city of Kobane, have been saying recently that the Islamic State are on the retreat … Good old John Kerry doesn’t seem to think the mujahdeen are retreating. He called Kobane a ‘horrible example of the unwillingness of people to help those fighting the Islamic State,’ that’s a dig at Kurd-hating Turkish President Erdoğan.”
“From where I’m standing right now, I can see large swathes of the city, and I can even see the Turkish flag behind me, and all I’ve seen here in the city of Kobani is mujahideen. There are no YPG, PKK, or Peshmerga in sight. Just a large number of Islamic State mujahideen, and they are definitely not on the run,” Cantlie says. “Urban warfare is about as nasty and tough as it gets, and it’s something of a specialty of the mujahideen.”
Cantlie appears to be in good health in the video, but a recent New York Times investigation into the conditions in which he and other foreign hostages have been held revealed that the captives were frequently kept chained, starved, beaten, and tortured — including with water boarding, electric shocks and mock executions.
John Cantlie is one of at least three Western captives known to be in the hands of the same Islamic State militants who executed James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, and Alan Henning. They are also holding an unidentified female US aid worker and Peter Kassig, a former US Army Ranger turned aid worker, who they have threatened to execute next.