The sister of Islamic State Captive-Propagandist John Cantlie has said her brother believes in “at least two-thirds” of what he says in his ISIS videos, four of which have been released in the past month.
Since the first ‘Lend me Your Ears’ video, delivered with what is now considered to be Cantlie’s trademark deadpan style, was released in mid-September, there has been speculation over the degree to which John is an unwilling participant in the short films. Although he is a prisoner of the Islamic State, a concurrent theme in the videos is about the perception that Cantlie has been abandoned by the United Kingdom, and the script once even suggested the government had deliberately left Cantlie in the hands of ISIS to give pretext for military intervention.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Jessica Cantlie spoke of her brother’s own political beliefs and strongly-held convictions. She said: “We’ve always been a listening family. He believes at least two-thirds of what he is saying, he’s a very principled man… We understand that he feels ignored and deserted and abandoned, we understand, we understand it”.
ISIS is keen to present the impression that not only is Cantlie happy with the scripts he reads for his weekly videos, but that he writes them himself, with only minimal interference from his captors. An article purportedly written by Cantlie was recently published in the latest edition of the Islamic State’s own glossy recruitment propaganda magazine Dabiq, in which it was claimed he wrote his own material, had access to the internet to research them, and had already come to terms with his own impending execution.
The magazine also claimed that there had already been eight videos shot, meaning there are at least four more to be released, even if Cantlie is already dead. Even though the article is written in the first person, and clearly in Cantlie’s ‘voice’, there is no way to confirm one way or another whether it was truly written by him, or just for him.
Cantlie was originally captured in Syria in 2012, and was treated for gunshot wounds sustained during captivity by Dr Shajul Islam, 23, an NHS-trained doctor who is believed to have travelled to the Islamic State for jihad. Cantlie briefly enjoyed freedom in the United Kingdom after his release and participated in the trial of Islam, which ultimately collapsed when Cantlie failed to testify. He travelled back to the Islamic State shortly after and once again became a captive, vanishing from the public conscious until last month, when ISIS released the first of his videos.