The Islamic State has released its seventh John Cantlie propaganda video, this time shot in the open air in the besieged city of Kobane, where he says the battle is now all but over, and ISIS are “mopping up” resistance.
The video, in which Cantlie refers to recent events and articles in British news, will cheer his sister who is campaigning for his release, as it confirms the British citizen was still alive in ISIS captivity within the last week. It begins with aerial-shots of the city of Kobane, taken from what is claimed to be a “Drone of the Islamic State Army”, before cutting to Cantlie in the city.
Cantlie mocks the Western media for their supposed ignorance over the situation on the ground in Kobane, making exaggerated movements while looking around the ruined city for other journalists. He said: “the Western media, and I can’t see any of their journalists… without safe access, there are no journalists here in the city, so the media are getting their information from Kurdish commanders and White House press secretaries, neither of whom have the slightest intention of telling the truth”.
The script, as read by Cantlie, calls attention to the intervention in the situation by Western air forces which he claims has cost taxpayers half a billion dollars for little benefit. Despite the support, he says, he makes his report from the “heart of the so-called PKK safe zone which is now entirely controlled by the Islamic State”, and worse “the Mujahideen are being resupplied by the hopeless United States Air Force, who parachuted two crates of weapons and ammunition straight into the outstretched arms of the Mujahideen”.
If the video was actually filmed within Kobane as claimed, frustratingly it means the hostage Cantlie was only a mile away from the border with NATO member Turkey, and freedom. Delivering his characteristic pre-scripted address, Cantlie seems more nervous, and less sure of his words than in previous films, and wears western-style clothes rather than the orange jumpsuit also worn by other now executed prisoners.
Although there is a broad consensus across the Western media that Cantlie is an unwilling hostage and delivers his performances under duress, there is growing uncertainty over just how much he freely cooperates, or even agrees with what he says.
Responding to the insistence that Cantlie was unwilling, the Islamic State published an article in their own glossy, English language propaganda magazine which purported to have been written by Cantlie himself. It explained at length the process of the video production process, and claimed he wrote all his own scripts, had access to the internet to research them, and his ISIS handlers only had minimal input.
Although this claim is impossible to verify, it was supported by comments made by Cantlie’s own sister, who admitted that he had expressed many of the views in the films privately before voluntarily travelling to the Islamic State to be captured a second time. She said: “He believes at least two-thirds of what he is saying, he’s a very principled man”.