Photojournalist delivers forced propaganda message criticising Barack Obama’s strategy of air strikes and proxy armies against Islamist extremists
By Rob Crilly, New York
Islamist terrorists have released a third video of John Cantlie, a British journalist held prisoner for two years, in which he delivers a scripted propaganda attack against Barack Obama’s strategy in Iraq and Syria.
Mr Cantlie, wearing an orange Guantanamo-style jumpsuit, delivers the words directly to the camera using a sing-song tone as if to undermine the message.
In it he criticises Barack Obama’s tactics of using air strikes and proxy Kurdish and Iraqi ground forces against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
“Air power is good at taking out specific targets but it is not good at taking and holding ground,” he said, sitting behind the same desk as before. “For that you need effective and disciplined troops and it’s hard to see how this hotch potch army with a long history of underperforming is going to be any form of credible infantry.”
He added that organising the Iraqi army into a proper fighting force would take months and dismissed the Free Syrian Army as “undisciplined, corrupt and largely ineffective”.
Mr Cantlie was first paraded in front of the cameras two weeks ago, promising a series of videos giving the real story of Isil.
It was the first that had been heard from him since he was captured inside Syria close to the border with Turkey towards the end of 2012.
Analysts said it may suggest a change in tactics by Isil, which had previously released videos of the murder of other Western hostages, including two American journalists and a British aid worker.
A second video was released last week in which Mr Cantlie, 43, from West Sussex, said the American president was being sucked into Gulf War III, another unwinnable conflict.
This time he sits in front of the same black backdrop to disguise his location. His appearance is similar, with the same length of beard, suggesting the videos were filmed at about the same time.
His main target is Mr Obama’s speech delivered on the 13th anniversary of 9/11.
He quotes approvingly from a New York Times article critical of Mr Obama’s strategy, and accuses the American president of using predictable and simplistic language.
The words attempt to rebut accusations that Isil lacks a vision and is interested only in murder
“Islamic State does have a vision: they have created an autonomous and functioning caliphate,” he said, before promising future videos.
“Join me again for the next programme.”
A British taxi driver, Alan Henning, who was kidnapped while delivering aid to Syria, is also still being held by Isil.