John Cantlie: twice held hostage by IS jihadists

John Cantlie: twice held hostage by IS jihadists

LONDON - British photojournalist John Cantlie, who appeared in a video released by the Islamic State (IS) organisation this week, is known as a courageous reporter who has twice been held hostage by the jihadists in Syria.

Some thought he was dead but the 43-year-old re-surfaced on Thursday in a video looking pale, tired and dressed in an orange jumpsuit in an unidentified location.

Speaking slowly and calmly in English, Cantlie said he was being held as a prisoner and promised to reveal in a series of programmes the "truth" about the jihadist group holding him that has seized parts of Iraq and Syria.

No threat was made against his life, unlike the previous three hostage videos released by IS militants showing the execution of two US journalists and a British aid worker.

Cantlie was kidnapped together with one of the executed journalists, James Foley, in November 2012 in Syria.

An extreme sports enthusiast described as courageous by colleagues, Cantlie started his career covering motorbike racing before becoming a freelance war reporter.

He worked for publications including The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, as well as Agence France-Presse.

It was not clear when the video was shot, but in the film he referred to recent events including the US-led campaign to defeat the jihadists.

The group said it murdered the three hostages in retaliation against US air strikes on IS positions in Iraq and against Britain's decision to send arms to Kurdish forces fighting the Islamists.

'Londoner against Londoner'

After becoming a reporter, Cantlie quickly made a name for himself, particularly in Libya where he covered the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Often on the frontlines, the award-winning photographer was known as something of a risk-taker and he was wounded by shrapnel in Syria.

Following a trip to Afghanistan, he devoted himself to the conflict in Syria.

He was first kidnapped with a Dutch colleague in July 2012, just three kilometres (1.9 miles) from the Turkish border after crossing into Syria.

The two were kidnapped by foreign fighters including several who Cantlie said were British.

On the second day of their detention, the two journalists tried to flee but were caught and Cantlie was shot in the arm.

"I ended up running for my life, barefoot and handcuffed while British jihadists - young men with south London accents - shot to kill," he wrote in the Sunday Times.

"They were aiming their Kalashnikovs at a British journalist, Londoner against Londoner in a rocky landscape that looked like the Scottish Highlands."

A few days later, Cantlie and his Dutch colleague, who was wounded in the ankle, were freed by fighters from the Free Syrian Army insurgent group.

Shaken by the incident, Cantlie still returned to Syria shortly after and was kidnapped a second time four months later.

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