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Islamic State Changes Tactics in New Hostage Video

James Cantlie, a British journalist held hostage by IS, delivers apparently scripted remarks to dissuade Westerners from going to war against the group.

by Jason Mojica
Sep 18 2014, 4:55pm

Image via YouTube

In what appears to the be the latest hostage video produced by the group formerly known as ISIS, British journalist John Cantlie speaks directly to the camera in a relaxed tone, identifying himself as a contributor to the Sunday Times, the Sun, and the Sunday Telegraph.

"Over the next few programs," he says, "I'm going to show you the truth as the Western media tries to drag the public back to the abyss of another war with the Islamic State."

What those "programs" will contain is anyone's guess, but this introductory episode, titled "Lend Me Your Ears," suggests that they will be well produced, and rely more on sophistry than the sword.

The three-and-a-half-minute video — which features an orange-clad Cantlie sitting at a table, hands folded, calmly delivering what seems to be a carefully scripted message — is the latest volley in an ongoing propaganda war between the Islamic State and the US government.

It remains to be seen whose message will win out, but the Cantlie video demonstrates the Islamic State's ability to nimbly change tack. They've gone from beheading journalists to using one as a mouthpiece to persuade Western viewers against supporting their leaders in the fight to destroy the Islamic State.

"After two disastrous and hugely unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, why is that that our governments appear so keen to get involved in yet another unwinnable conflict?" Cantlie asks. "I'm going to show you the truth behind the systems and motivation of the Islamic State, and how the Western media — the very organization I used to work for — can twist and manipulate that truth to the public back home."

Those who suspect that Cantlie is speaking under duress are correct.

"You're thinking, he's only doing this because he's a prisoner," he says, delivering remarks apparently designed to inoculate against skepticism. "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."

This is not Cantlie's first time as a hostage. In July 2012, Cantlie and Dutch photographer Jeroen Oerlemans were captured in Syria by men Oerlemans later described as "foreign jihadis." They were reportedly freed when fighters whom Oerlemans believed to be with the Free Syrian Army stormed the camp where they were being held.

In the new video, Cantlie says that he was captured by the Islamic State following his return to Syria in November of 2012.

Follow Jason Mojica on Twitter: @elmodernisto