Islamic State Propagandists have released another short film featuring the prisoner John Cantlie, in which he warns the West that spending millions of dollars on bombs will do more to damage the “largely bankrupt” United States and United Kingdom than it will ISIS, which is “patient” and “welcomes” the prospect of “boots on the ground”.
The film is the fourth in the ‘Lend me Your Ears’ series produced by ISIS to showcase Cantlie, the British journalist who has been a prisoner of the Islamic State for nearly two years. Reading a prepared script, Cantlie spoke in the film to describe the ultimate futility of the West bombing the Islamic State, and even went as far as to suggest he and his fellow captives had been abandoned by their governments deliberately to give a pretext for war.
Speaking of the West’s previous experience with counter-insurgency operations in the Middle East, the video insists ISIS is financially independent and “thrives” when it is attacked, quite unlike the “bankrupt” West: “The Islamic State doesn’t mind if nobody attacks them or if everybody attacks them. They are patient… They don’t rely on any donor or country for funds but make financial gains from war booty… America on the other hand has to do this as quickly and cleanly as possible… With our economies largely bankrupt, getting sustained public support for yet more war is going to be nigh on impossible”.
When referring to those prisoners already executed, the video lays the blame for their deaths squarely at the feet of Western leaders, but refers to only three of his former fellow prisoners having been executed, while the total was brought to four a fortnight ago. Cantlie’s lack of knowledge of the execution of former Brit Alan Henning suggests either he is being kept in the dark by his captors, or the video was filmed weeks ago before the killing.
The degree to which Cantlie himself is complicit in the production of the films is contested, as his deadpan, emotionless delivery could be equally attributed to the resignation of a prisoner who has suffered two years of psychological abuse acquiescing to his captors’ demands, or a resisting party with a figurative gun to his head. The general assumption among the Western media that Cantlie is an unwilling player in the videos has been challenged by an article in the Islamic State’s own recruitment magazine Dabiq, which carries an article purportedly by Cantlie which insists the prisoner writes all his own material.
The article strikes a humble tone, and has clearly been written to match the style of the scripts delivered by Cantlie in this propaganda videos. Starting: “I dislike talking about myself, it appears arrogant”, the article claims that while his captors suggest the titles, Cantlie writes all the material himself and they are filmed almost immediately. If it is true that, as the article suggests he has already filmed twelve such films as they are released it will become less certain that Cantlie is still alive. Indeed, when referring to those already executed the article says Cantlie is already awaiting his turn.