ISIS: Major Change of Hostage Media Strategy

British reporter John Cantlie was first captured by extremists in Syria in July, 2012. Here he is in a new video, calmly sitting at a table dressed in the tell-tale orange detainee garb, telling the public this is the first of a series of programs from him. There's no man in black, no desert in the background. He says he will expose the truth. He begins by saying the U.K. and U.S.A. are the only countries that refuse to pay ransom demands. He also asks why, after two disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Government is so keen on getting into yet another unwinnable conflict, this time with the Islamic State.

He says, "I know what you're thinking" -- that he's being forced to do this video and there's a gun to his head. He says, it's true, he is a prisoner. But "seeing as I've been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic state, I've got nothing to lose. Maybe I will live and maybe I will die."

He says he will take this opportunity to present some facts, that if viewers will contemptlate, might help save lives. He says there are two sides to every story, and we are only receiving one from the media.

He says there is time to change this seemingly inevitable series of events, but "only if you, the public, acts now." He ends with:

Join me for the next few programs, and I think you will be surprised at what you learn.

Cantlie was captured with Dutch photographer Jeroen Oerlemans on July 19, 2012, near Bab al Hawa. Their kidnappers were British extremists. They both tried to escape and were shot and caught. On July 26, 2012, they were freed by the Free Syrian Army. After his release, in an interview, he said:

"I ended up running for my life, barefoot and handcuffed, while British jihadists - young men with south London accents - shot to kill. They were aiming their Kalashnikovs at a British journalist, Londoner against Londoner in a rocky landscape that looked like the Scottish Highlands. Bullets kicking up dirt as I ran. A bullet through my arm, another grazing my ear. And not a Syrian in sight. This wasn't what I had expected."

He said he was captured by al-Dawla al-Islamiyya (The Islamic State) whose leader, Abo Mohamad Al-Shami, wanted Brits to fight against Assad. He said the Brits used an aid charity as cover to get into Syria. He talked about how one of the fighters who was a doctor had been nice to him while treating him. I wrote about Cantlie and the doctor, Shajul Islam, here.

Dutch freelance photographer, Jeroen Oerlemans was interviewed in July, 2012 by Mclatchy, and described his jailers as a Pakistani Brit who spoke good English and several Brits with a Birmingham accent. (New York Times here.)

Perhaps relevant (keep in mind I'm no expert and just connecting dots from many diverse sources): In August 2012 the Daily Mail interviewed released journalist John Cantlie. He describes the doctor, Shajul Islam, as one of his captors. Islam was charged, along with a brother, and the case collapsed on the eve of trial. But last week, in investigating the Foley killing, he was brought in for questioning -- perhaps because he could identify the man in the video. Also, his younger brother, Abu Qudamma a-Dousi aka Razul (Rz-Raz38) is one of the recent British ISIS fighters also said to be under investigation in the Foley execution video.

... Who's in charge of prisons in Raqqa and Aleppo? A man hired by al Baghdadi himself -- Amr al-Absi, also known as Abu al-Athir al-Shami. His story (and that of his murdered brother, Faras al Ibsi) is here and here. All these events, from Foley's kidnapping to the foreign recruits, have at least one thing in common: The Turkish border.

Apparently, Cantlie had returned to Syria and was kidnapped again, as this video is the first time anyone has heard from him since late 2012.

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    There is a noticeable difference (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by jtaylorr on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 10:36:53 AM EST
    in the way this blog reports on U.S. vs. ISIS propaganda. Posts reporting the latest U.S. propaganda are (rightfully) critical, laced with commentary, and highly skeptical. But posts on ISIS are always calm and detached, simply reporting ISIS's positions with zero critical commentary. It's bizarre.

    What is (none / 0) (#10)
    by lentinel on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 04:52:32 PM EST
    your point?

    I'm terrible...I thought 'lend me your ears' (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by ruffian on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 11:51:17 AM EST
    was a prelude to a video of some new ISIS disfigurement method.

    Perhaps that choice of words is more indication of involvement if British ISIS fighters. Certainly they seem to have a western media style.

    In one of their glossy ads, they say (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 04:12:21 AM EST
    when they give Hadd (punishment) for whacking off hands, they always have a trained medical specialist right there. Here's the sceengrab (non-violent.)

    Confidence building and reassuring (none / 0) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 10:10:10 AM EST
    lol; "Compassionate Sociopathologism" (none / 0) (#16)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Sep 21, 2014 at 04:59:28 PM EST
    Cops in Australia... (none / 0) (#1)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 09:48:03 AM EST
    ...stopped a plan to behead a random person in in public.

    Abbott was asked about reports that the people detained were planning to publicly behead a random person in Sydney.

    "That's the intelligence we received," he told reporters. "The exhortations - quite direct exhortations - were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country." LINK

    thanks, I wrote about this in the (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 09:59:46 AM EST
    open thread here. Let's keep this thread to Cantlie and ISIS' new message.

    Sorry, I Read This Story... (none / 0) (#7)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 11:10:58 AM EST
    ...before I saw it in open thread.

    This is not a change (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dadler on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 10:15:46 AM EST
    This is minor-league at best, since the ONLY way it is a change is if they released the guy unharmed, and they won't do that. So this is really just Jeffrey Dahmer putting on his more pleasant attire and act, like he did when he convinced the cops to let his next murder victim, who was bleeding and disoriented in the street, go back home with him.  The only advantage it has is because our own "propaganda" machine can't even utilize freedom to easily kick the living sh*t out of these halfwits. IOW, our own machine is even LESS creative then theirs, and that is saying some WILDLY awful about the state of our free American minds. And yet, the idea that this cat is speaking under anything but mortal duress is laughable. But it is true, I can't deny it, that when you have nothing to lose you tend to relax.  

    So, now it's going to be an appeal to (none / 0) (#4)
    by Anne on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 10:27:48 AM EST
    reason?  It would perhaps be more believable if Cantlie were speaking as a free man, but even then, how would anyone know what "incentives" were at work to guarantee the message the Islamic State wants to get out?

    There are some interesting things to think about in Dan Froomkin's piece at The Intercept; here's Matthew Hoh addressing the strategy of the Islamic State, and how we are playing right into it:

       While escalating American airstrikes and sending more troops to Iraq may assuage the fear and horror affecting the American public, and motivating America's politicians, acting on those feelings will ensure greater conflict and loss.

        The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, requires the United States to serve as a villain in order for the Islamic State to receive manpower, logistics and financial support from Sunni Muslim communities. Additionally, an American military re-entry into the Iraqi Civil War in support of Shia and Kurdish factions, without lasting and serious political concessions from Baghdad towards Sunni grievances, will worsen the same political disenfranchisement and sense of existential danger that has pushed the Sunnis to align with the Islamic State. In the short-term American bombs may hurt the Islamic State, but in the long-term it is what they need and want.

        The Islamic State is a parasite of war. Its members and its narrative need war for their personal, organizational and ideological validation and success. That is why the only way to defeat the Islamic State is to take the war away from them.

    A question... (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by lentinel on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 05:30:07 PM EST
    The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, requires the United States to serve as a villain in order for the Islamic State to receive manpower, logistics and financial support from Sunni Muslim communities.

    I believe that to be the case.
    In fact, it seems obvious that we are playing into their hands.

    So why are we doing what we're doing?

    Is it possible that the inverse is also true? That the US needs ISIS to serve as villain in order for it to continue its march from a fragile democracy to a robust dictatorship of corporate interests that benefit from war, but are left hanging in the wind by peace?


    The Saudis (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 07:52:44 PM EST
    Oil, light sweet crude.

    Iran Sings the Same Tune (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 10:42:33 AM EST
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Wednesday that the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq created the extremist group the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Further foreign military presence, he said, will only create new terrorists.

    "If you look at the essence of ISIS, it's the product of foreign invasion," Zarif said during a discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations. "Foreign presence in any territory creates a dynamic for demagogues like ISIS to use the resentment in the population of being occupied.


    Bet we have a deal with the Saudi's to keep the hate alive.. in exchange for relatively low oil prices.

    As Kissinger said, the US does not have an ideology, only interests. Our most important geopolitical interest has been and continues to be oil. US corporations simply could not function if they did not have access to cheap oil. Saudi light crude is and remains the largest, most readily accessible pool of the most valuable crude. Oh, and the country with the second biggest proven reserves of light sweet crude is Iraq.

    If you want to get a handle on the politics of the Middle East, the linchpin is the US-Saudi relationship. The long-standing deal is simple: Saudi princes keeps oil prices in check in return for US support for being kept in power. The de facto discount against what the Saudis could make if they choked supply back to get better prices is protection money.



    ISIS or ISIL or this (none / 0) (#9)
    by ragebot on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 04:33:54 PM EST
    Kinda interesting link on what to call these


    Especially if you want to tick them off.

    The link (none / 0) (#12)
    by lentinel on Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 06:23:24 PM EST
    provided above to the statement by Cantlie been removed by Youtube.