John Cantlie ‘used by ISIS leaders to be traded for their freedom’

Desperate ISIS are using British hostage John Cantlie, an Italian priest and a New Zealand nurse as bargaining chips for safe passage from last stronghold to avoid annihilation

  • British journalist John Cantlie was kidnapped by ISIS in Syria in November 2012
  • He has appeared in propaganda videos for the terrorists, most recently in 2016  
  • UK security minister Ben Wallace said this week he was still believed to be alive
  • Kurdish forces say Cantlie and two other hostages are being used as leverage
  • ISIS leaders hope to trade him, and Italian priest and a Kiwi nurse, for freedom 

Captive: British journalist John Cantlie, pictured before his kidnapping, is believed to be still alive and in the hands of ISIS 

British journalist John Cantlie, who was captured by ISIS six years ago, has been kept alive by jihadist leaders be traded for their own freedom, Kurdish forces have said.

ISIS is allegedly trying to use Mr Cantlie and two other Western hostages as bargaining chips as US-backed Kurdish forces close in on the final pocket of jihadists in Syria.  

Italian priest Paolo Dall’Oglio, 64, and a female Red Cross nurse from New Zealand, whose identity has been withheld by the organisation for her safety, were both feared to have been executed by ISIS.

All three were captured on separate occasions during the ascent of the terrorist organisation in 2012-2013, and if they are still alive, would have survived several years as ISIS prisoners.   

The trio are now being used by ISIS during negotiations with Kurdish forces, who have surrounded the few hundred remaining Islamist fighters in the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor, according to The Times. 

Kurdish army officials told the newspaper that all three have been mentioned by ISIS fighters and their family members captured recently, but stressed that this had not been verified.

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It comes after the UK Minister of State for Security Ben Wallace said he believed the photographer was still alive.

However the UK would not pay ransom for hostages such as Mr Cantlie, Mr Wallace told CNN. 

The photographer was captured by the terror group in November 2012 along with American reporter James Foley, who was later beheaded by the British ISIS terrorist who became known as ‘Jihadi John’. 

Hope: Italian Priest Paolo Dall’Oglio, pictured in Syria before his kidnapping, has been presumed dead, but could now be among Western hostages being used as bargaining chips by desperate ISIS fighters

2014: John Cantlie appears in a video two years after his capture by ISIS, wearing an orange jumpsuit and revealing how prisoners were waterboarded for trying to escape 

The last public sighting of Mr Cantlie was in a 2016 video but a Kurdish official said last month that he was still believed to be in Syria 

Mr Cantlie’s skills as a journalist have been exploited by ISIS in an attempt to lend credibility to propaganda films.  

In a video which emerged in March 2016, a thin-looking Cantlie was seen speaking about the bombing of Mosul University in Iraq. 

In 2014 he appeared in another video wearing an orange prisoner jumpsuit and revealing how prisoners were waterboarded for trying to escape. 

He also read out purported emails between IS and the families of American captives who complained about Washington’s refusal to negotiate their release.  

Last November, a former ISIS member told French magazine Paris Match that he saw Mr Cantlie in the Syrian city of Raqqa, 300 miles from Mosul. 

2016: A thin-looking Cantlie appears in another video discussing the bombing of Mosul University in Iraq 

He told the magazine in October that he saw him ‘seven or eight months ago, in my prison, with an interpreter’. 

Mr Cantlie had worked for several publications, including The Sunday Times, The Sun and The Sunday Telegraph. 

He was captured in July 2012 but rescued by members of the Free Syrian Army, only to be kidnapped again later that year.  

A freed ISIS prisoner said he suffered ‘weeks and weeks’ of torture after he tried to escape his terrorist prisoners. 

Fellow captive Javier Espinosa, a Spanish journalist, said Mr Foley had escaped from a room but waited for Mr Cantlie rather than run for freedom himself. 

‘The guard saw that Cantlie (had freed himself) and Foley could have tried to escape on his own, but gave himself up,’ Mr Espinosa said.  

The Briton’s sister, Jessica Cantlie, has previously appealed for ‘direct contact’ with the militants holding him. 

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