New IS video suggests British hostage is still alive

New IS video suggests British hostage is still alive
3 min read
13 July, 2016
IS-held captive John Cantlie has appeared looking gaunt in a thinly-veiled propaganda video by the group, showing the journalist delivering a 'news report' at the site of an air raid.
John Cantlie standing outside Mosul University in the new video [Fox News/MEMRI]
A recently released video from the Islamic State group suggests that captured British journalist John Cantlie may still be alive after being held hostage since by the militants for four years.

The video - in which Cantlie delivers a 'news report' for the IS group's Aamaq news agency - shows the 45-year-old looking frail and emaciated, as he talks at the site of an air strike, which he claims is Mosul University and was destroyed by US-led coalition missiles.  

Dressed in a loose shirt and ankle length trousers - a clothing regulation that is enforced by IS - the journalist is seen standing before the ruins of the university.

"Hello, I'm John Cantlie. Today we are at Mosul University...or at least what’s left of it," he claims.

"If you look behind me, you'll see it’s been pretty much smashed to pieces," he continues, in a chillingly calm tone.

The video - which was provided to Fox News by MEMRI TV - also shows Iraqis gathering to break their fast in the streets of the IS group's Mosul stronghold, giving a rough indication that it was likely produced in the past month.

"You have to ask yourself: why did the coalition decide to destroy the university?" Cantlie continues. "Normal, social everyday life has been destroyed and if you are going to destroy a university, why bother?"

In line with previous IS videos featuring the captive reporter, the propaganda aims are barely disguised and clear to viewers.

Cantlie has been shown questioning the logic of US-led attacks on IS.

The videos - which ran under a series entitled "Lend me your Ears" - had the journalist introduce himself in each clip as a "British citizen abandoned by my government". This refers to the UK's refusal to negotiate with IS for Cantlie's life, and its long-standing policy of not paying ransoms to terrorist groups.

John CAntlie
The opening sequence of the "Lend me your ears" video series [YouTube screenshot]

In one episode, Cantlie talks of a botched rescue mission led by the US, in which he appears to hold the western allies responsible for his fate in the aftermath of the operation.

Cantlie has also been used by his captors to write a column in the IS propaganda paper Dabiq. In the piece - and almost certainly under duress - the writer praised the extremists for their good treatment of him and criticised western governments.

In 2014, Cantlie's father John passed away while still pleading for his son's release. Cantlie's sister Jessica has criticised the UK government for her brother's continued captivity.

According to The Guardian, the UK's Foreign Office is aware of the new video and is "analysing its contents".