cantlieep6

In the sixth episode of the Islamic State’s (IS) video series “Lend Me Your Ears,” British captive John Cantlie discussed a botched U.S. raid to free him and other prisoners, and lamented that the U.S. negotiated with the Afghan Taliban to free Bowe Bergdahl but will not do so for him and others.

The 8 minute, 52 second video was produced by the IS’ al-Furqan Media Foundation, and was distributed on Twitter on November 21, 2014. Regarding the raid, Cantlie said that the IS anticipated the move and transferred the prisoners to another location. He also remarked that while the U.S. most likely spent tens of millions of dollars on the raid, it cost the fighters only a “few dollars in petrol” to escape it. Here, he derided the U.S. and Britain for not negotiating with the IS and instead seeking military solutions to the issue.

Cantlie stated:

“Long ago, I accepted that my fate will overwhelmingly likely be the same as my cellmates, and I'm angry about it. Not towards the mujahideen - they're doing what they said they would do if our countries did not negotiate, and that was before the American airstrikes against the Islamic State. No, I'm angry at our governments for allowing the matter to get to this position, and then having done so using the deaths of my colleagues for their own reasons through the media. I'm angry that our governments for not discussing this matter with our families, for not discussing the matter with the Islamic State, and for treating our lives like some sort of gamble, like a roll of the dice, when everyone else went home. I will continue to speak out against this military action and the deceitful arrogance of our governments for as long as the mujahideen allow me to live.”

Following is a transcript of the video:

Lend Me Your Ears
Messages from the British Detainee John Cantlie, Episode 6

Hello, I'm John Cantlie, the British citizen abandoned by my government, and a prisoner of the Islamic State for nearly two years now.

In this program I'll tell you about a failed raid to rescue us and how it feels to be left for dead by your own government.

On July 4th, Independence Day, the Americans did try to get us out of prison. Not by negotiation or prisoner exchange, but by an incredibly complex, risky, and expensive rescue attempt that failed. The raid involved two dozen Delta Force commandos, several Black Hawk helicopters, gunships, Predator drones, F18 Hornet jets, and refueling aircraft. It took weeks of rehearsals and must have cost tens of millions to perform, but weren't there. The Islamic State, anticipating such a move, just put the six of us in cars and moved us to another prison days before hand. The total cost to them was a few dollars in petrol.

We're not sure if we missed them by twelve minutes or twelve hours, said Hector Pocock, a Special Operations spokesman. Missions like this are very risky, because if they go wrong, you don't know how it will affect the hostages further up the road. You don't say...

Meanwhile, James Foley's mother, Diane, who is being threatened by the U.S. National Security Council that she could face criminal charges if they paid her ransom. We were horrified they would say that, she told al-Jazeera on September 13th. We were told we'd be prosecuted, but we had to try and save our son. She was told to trust the government would free James and he wasn't, was he, says Diane.

Since 2008, France has reportedly paid $58 million in random payments to different Islamic groups - nearly $10 million a year. These payments are one of many demands by different Islamic groups. Wouldn't it just be cheaper to release the Muslim prisoners as asked? But American and Britain have to do it their way and often far more dangerous and costly than negotiating in the first place. They refuse to negotiate for us. America mounted a botched rescue and then threatened a mother trying to save her son with funding terrorism charges if she raised a ransom.

The double-standards on display here are breathtaking. Why would you put all those lives in danger when you could have peacefully negotiated like everyone else? Why is a military operation always the first option for our countries?

Now take the case of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held since 2009 by Afghans who harbored al-Qaeda back in 2001. They demanded five high-profile Guantanamo prisoners in exchange. The Pentagon wanted to keep them. They were the hardest of the hardcore, according to John McCain. But Obama wanted the exchange, and five years after Bergdahl was taken, he got it, on June 1st of this year. Bergdahl was released. He was one man. We were six. And the Islamic State asked for Muslim prisoners in exchange for all of us. Yes, Bergdahl was a soldier and three of us were British. But is a civilian life or six of them really not worth discussing?

There was no more talk and we were left to our fate. We are not big people. We are not special. We are not U.S. soldiers. But we are no more or less important than everyone else who went home. The difference being, all the other countries had the patience to negotiate with the Islamic State through the families and friends of the prisoners, while our leapt in with guns and helicopters, and this was the result. James, Steve, and David didn't want their deaths to encourage an entire nation to war, and if it comes to it, please don't let our governments pull the same stunt with us, because if armed intervention ended the way it did in this situation, why would it be any different on a bigger scale in this region?

We were left to die. It's the worst feeling in the world being left behind like that. We've been in the longest, paid our dues, watched everyone else go home, never stopped believing, and then wham! Have some of that. You're not worth negotiating for. To be left behind so cynically by the country you thought you knew. Some kind of ultimate betrayal. You spend your whole life working, paying taxes, not getting into trouble with the police - well, not for anything serious - paying your bills, and for what? The first time you need your government to do something for you, when it's truly life or death, they turn their back.

I watched a Sky News interview with David Cameron the night before fellow Briton David Haines was executed. "They have a British hostage, what will you do?", asked the journalist. Well we get our security services, intelligence people, and the government together to ask what we can do to get that person back. But it is very difficult and his family have our sympathies, said the PM. Neither David nor his family nor we wanted your sympathy, Prime Minister. What we wanted was your help, which as leader you could have given. How can you outrageously claim the whole system is working on their behalf, as you did in that interview, when David's body now lies in the Syrian desert. What kind of system is that? The PM then went on to deride the European negotiations who fulfilled the conditions for the release of their prisoners, as supporting terrorism. But what they did to get their people home was nothing compared to what we've done by supporting corrupt outfits like the FSA, who only sell the hundreds of millions of dollars of weapons they've been given, many of whom end up in the hands of the Islamic State itself.

I then watched President Obama's speech about taking the fight to the Islamic State and I was amazed as he mentioned two names in the opening paragraphs of his address: James Foley and Steven Sotloff, my two former American cellmates, also executed by the Islamic State. It became clear to me that we're just being used by our politicians. Obama and Cameron act all shocked and appalled each time one of us is killed, but they've known this was coming for months - months! They've known our six names, who is holding us, and the consequences of negotiating for over a year. So for them to act all surprised and shocked each time one of us is executed is a massive lie to the public and our families.

Long ago, I accepted that my fate will overwhelmingly likely be the same as my cellmates, and I'm angry about it. Not towards the mujahideen - they're doing what they said they would do if our countries did not negotiate, and that was before the American airstrikes against the Islamic State. No, I'm angry at our governments for allowing the matter to get to this position, and then having done so using the deaths of my colleagues for their own reasons through the media. I'm angry that our governments for not discussing this matter with our families, for not discussing the matter with the Islamic State, and for treating our lives like some sort of gamble, like a roll of the dice, when everyone else went home. I will continue to speak out against this military action and the deceitful arrogance of our governments for as long as the mujahideen allow me to live.

Once again we're becoming embroiled in a war that has little to do with humanitarian issues or national security, but is all about oil, business, money, and political games and selfish individuals and parties.

Think about it and let your voices be heard. Join me again in the next program.

 

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