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Islamic State Treats Hostages 'Well,' According to New Propaganda Video

The Islamic State's media arm released a new video featuring British hostage John Cantlie reading a scripted message from his captors.
Image via Al Furqa Media

A new video released by the Islamic State's media arm Saturday has British hostage John Cantlie saying in a scripted message that hostages were treated "well" by the jihadist group before some were beheaded and others released.

Cantlie, a photojournalist captured in November 2012, has appeared in a series of propaganda videos scorning the US-led coalition's "unwinnable war" in Iraq and Syria. This is his fifth appearance on camera delivering scripted speeches for the Islamic State.


The videos are part of a series titled "Lend Me Your Ears," and are written to make it sound like Cantlie is expressing his own views in a setting that resembles a political talk show. In each of the videos, he appears in the same orange jumpsuit, similar to those worn by Guantanamo Bay detainees. He reads each of the messages calmly, with tones of obvious skepticism.

Islamic State releases third video of British hostage John Cantlie. Read more here.

In the latest video, Cantlie condemns the British and American governments for "abandoning" their hostages, comparing those countries with other European nations who have successfully negotiated the release of 16 of their citizens.

"It was clear something was different for the British and Americans. While there was dialogue for everyone else the British and Americans were stonewalled. It was completely silent. Nothing," Cantlie says, reading from the script. "Our governments had chosen not to negotiate with the Islamic State through our families and friends. And while everyone else had fulfilled conditions for release, for us there was no deal."

Cantlie, sitting at a table in front of a black backdrop, says in the footage that the prisoners were treated "well" by the Islamic State, "unless we tried something stupid like escaping or doing something we shouldn't."

Watch the entire VICE News documentaryThe Islamic State here.

"Some of us who tried to escape were water-boarded by our captors as Muslim prisoners are water-boarded by their American captors," he says.


"Our strange little community of prisoners had its share of problems but apart from the odd fight we lived together in relative harmony through uncertain times," he added. "We read books, played recreational games and gave lectures on our specialist subjects. It wasn't a bad life."

Cantlie was kidnapped in late 2012 along with American journalist James Foley. It was the second time Cantlie had been taken hostage in Syria. On the first occasion, in July 2012, he escaped after a week with the aid of the Free Syrian Army.

Since August, the Islamic State has also posted online videos depicting the executions of four Western hostages — Foley and fellow journalist Steven Sotloff, and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning.

In the video of Henning's killing, Peter Kassig, an American aid worker and former military serviceman who was kidnapped while delivering aid in Syria, was also threatened with death.

It is unclear how many hostages the Islamic State currently hold. Cantlie's parents have made numerous appeals to the group for the safe return of their son.

Parents of endangered US hostage make plea to Islamic State. Read more here.

VICE News' Hannah Strange contributed to this report.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter:@lianzifields