Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the latest video of John Cantlie – a British journalist held hostage since November 2012 – that Islamic State released online on 27 October. It shows him doing a “report” from the Syrian town of Kobani, giving the Jihadi group’s take on the state of its battle with Kurdish fighters supported by the US-led international coalition.
John Cantlie is seen near Syria’s border with Turkey having to act as if he is a TV journalist delivering a news report from the front line. Wearing a black shirt, he addresses the camera, denying that the Jihadi combatants – the “Mujahideen” – have pulled out of Kobani, contrary to western media reports. He says the international public is being fed information based on sources within the Kurdish militias and the White House in the absence of western media on the ground. “I can't see any of their journalists here,” he says, as if were not Islamic State’s terrifying intimidation that is largely responsible for the lack of foreign reporters and the creation of news “black holes". “In a cowardly fashion, Islamic State is exploiting Cantlie’s profession to feed its propaganda machine and is continuing to commit war crimes with complete impunity,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Subjected to unprecedented psychological pressure, Cantlie has no choice but to cooperate because Islamic State has not hesitated to use the most barbaric means to dispatch hostages and media workers who refused to be enlisted in its information war. Cantlie must be freed without delay so that he ceases to be used as standard-bearer of Islamic State’s news manipulation.” Kidnapped with US journalist James Foley in November 2012, Cantlie already appeared in several IS videos entitled “Lend me your ears,” the first of which was released on 18 September. Sitting at a desk and dressed in orange, like a Guantanamo Bay detainee and like other hostages already executed by IS, he criticized the US and UK governments and the international coalition fighting IS. In the latest video, he says waterboarding was used to punish hostages who tried to escape. Cantlie’s sister appealed to IS on 13 October to resume a dialogue with the family. Before dying on 22 October, his father, Paul Cantlie recorded a video from his hospital bed on 3 October in which he also asked IS to release his son. The most recent beheading of a journalist by IS was that of Raad Mohamed Al-Azaoui, an Iraqi cameraman decapitated in public in Iraq on 10 October. IS released its videos of James Foley and fellow US journalist Steven Sotloff being beheaded in Syria on 19 August and 2 September respectively. IS has so far killed two US journalists, eight Syrian journalists and one Iraqi journalist. In addition to Cantlie, IS is holding nine Iraqi journalists in Iraq and around 20 Syrian journalists are missing or being held by IS and other armed groups in Syria.