SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) – Departing from its serial beheading videos of Western hostages that have outraged the world, the Islamic State released a new video on Thursday featuring a captive British journalist seated behind a desk, explaining the group’s message and warning that America and its allies are foolishly heading into another unwinnable war.
The Internet video, titled “Lend Me Your Ears” and subtitled in Arabic, shows the journalist, John Cantlie, dressed in an orange jumpsuit and apparently reading from a script, recalling how he was captured by the militant group also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL after he arrived in Syria in November 2012.
“Now nearly two years later, many things have changed,” Mr. Cantlie said, describing the Islamic State’s expansion of territory in eastern Syria and western Iraq, “a land mass bigger than Britain and many other nations.”
Looking calm but stressed, Mr. Cantlie said the group had released other European captives, with the exception of those from Britain and the United States. He did not say that both countries’ governments have refused to pay cash ransoms, as other nations have done.
In comments apparently directed at a war-weary American public, Mr. Cantlie spoke of what he described as the foolhardiness of yet another United States-led military commitment abroad, following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He described his message as the first in a coming series of lectures he would deliver about what he called verifiable facts about the Islamic State.
“Now, I know what you’re thinking,” he said. “You’re thinking: ‘He’s only doing this because he’s a prisoner. He’s got a gun at his head and he’s being forced to do this.’ Right? Well, it’s true. I am a prisoner, that I cannot deny.”
“But seeing as I’ve been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic State, I have nothing to lose,” he said. “Maybe I will live and maybe I will die, but I want to take this opportunity to convey some facts that you can verify. Facts that if you contemplate, might help preserving lives.”
Mr. Cantlie was kidnapped in Syria before, in July 2012, and released a couple of weeks later along with a Dutch photographer, Jeroen Oerlemans. That time, the two journalists were held at a camp in Syria by a group of foreign jihadists, who kept them hooded and blindfolded and repeatedly threatened to kill them. Mr. Cantlie and Mr. Oerlemans were shot during an escape attempt before their release. Four months later Mr. Cantlie was captured again in Syria while riding in a car with the American journalist James Foley.
Mr. Cantlie’s 3-minute, 21-second message was released as momentum is building in Washington for a strong military response to the Islamic State’s rapid ascendance. It came a day after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to authorize training and arming Syrian insurgents who are opposed to the Islamic State.
On Twitter, accounts associated with jihadist sympathizers tried to garner a wider audience for the video by co-opting popular hashtags, including ones associated with the Scotland independence referendum.
The video followed the staggered release of three videos over the past month showing the decapitations of Mr. Foley and another American journalist, Steven J. Sotloff, and of a British aid worker, David Cawthorne Haines. In all three, the prisoners kneel on a bare desert hill under an open sky and are forced to read from a script blaming their leaders for their impending deaths. A black-clad masked executioner with British-accented English is seen standing beside each.