In the interests of “free speech”….. John Cantlie writes from Islamic State

John Cantlie as he appears in a video from the Islamic State

In the interests of so called “free speech” (which has now become a much debated concept, depending on definition), I took the decision a year ago to make and publish a full transcript of a video featuring the words of Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier whilst a prisoner of the Taliban, see following link,

“Bowe Bergdahl, US soldier captured by the Taliban, a reflection on his words and time for prisoner exchange” (Feb 12th, 2014)

During that time prior to his release, I was able to both forward questions and quietly receive updates on his health determining he was probably alive which may have assisted in some small way towards securing the prisoner exchange with 5 Taliban held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I have decided now to publish an article allegedly written by John Cantlie who is detained with the Islamic State (IS). Today, February 14th 2015, campaigners (including myself) are also highlighting that it is 13 years to the day that Shaker Aamer was imprisoned in Guantanamo, never charged, tried and now cleared for release, see press statement,

“Cleared Londoner Shaker Aamer marks 13 years in Guantanamo without charge or trial”

There will no doubt be cries to me of “why are you publishing IS propaganda”? My response is that we see propaganda all the time from western governments as I know from personal communications with politicians regarding the unlawful death of my husband and brother-in-law at the hands of US and British governments. There will be accusations by some of printing material published by “terrorists” but the CIA alleged “torturers and terrorists'” website remains on line. I see no social media service providers removing those links!

International media have recently shown clips from a series of videos Cantlie has made whilst in captivity. Fox News has an embedded link to the full video of the burning alive of Jordanian pilot, Muath al Kasasbeh. There were mass protests across the world in support of “freedom of speech” after Charlie Hebdo magazine publication and attack on their offices in Paris despite the distress experienced by Muslims as the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was ridiculed and defiled.

So I feel there is justification for publishing the written piece by John Cantlie, the article as it appeared in Dabiq, the media outlet of the Islamic State. It is minus the original illustrations which were difficult to access and reproduce in the same way on WordPress but have added similar photos of the same individuals shown in original article.

What we don’t know is Cantlie’s daily circumstances as a prisoner or his state of mind in captivity. We have seen him “out and about” filming with IS, so compared to Guantanamo prisoners he is at least unshackled during this time, speaking to people on the street and having some fresh air and interaction outside his place of confinement. I recall Bergdahl was also given certain freedoms after a time, again more that those in Guantanamo.

So here it is…..


The Anger Factory

(which first appeared in Dabiq, 7th edition, February 2013)

It’s Western governments’ heavy-handed tactics that generate the growing anger that will reduce Western nations to ashes…

“Something interesting that I read in The Independent on 19th January was that nearly half of France opposes the publishing of offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and that they believe there should be greater restrictions on the freedom of speech.

In a poll, “42 per cent of respondents express opposition to cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad,” says Zachary Davies Boren in his article. This is just after Charlie Hebdo, which normally sells around 60,000 per issue, printed seven million to cope with public demand after the Paris attacks. And what did they put on the cover? Another cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad! Suddenly, hundreds of thousands of Muslims all over the world took angrily to the streets in protest. And who knows how many others will plan out more attacks against Europe?

So it seems half of France is pleading for common sense and respect to prevail. And the other half wants to carry on with sacrilegious speech and belligerent behavior. It’s not the only example of a split in opinions following the attacks after a comedian was arrested by police for praising the operation. So in other words, it’s okay to offend Islam by making fun of the Prophet Muhammad but it’s an offense to defend Islam by expressing support for mujāhidīn.

The French attacks have highlighted the growing rage of Muslims worldwide against Europe. Just three young Muslims brought an entire country to its knees while in the Middle East a billion dollars’ worth of bombs have been dropped in the last three months alone. And yet everyone acts all surprised and outraged after a relatively small attack in a capital city occurs as a direct result.

Why us? Why here? What did we do to deserve this? Well remember the dozens of Muslim men, women, and children who were killed in Syria from coalition bombs in January alone.


In original image similar to above title the PM appears as  “The Crusader David Cameron”

Politicians were quick to support Islam, of course, but only their kind of “Islam.” In Britain, someone called Eric Pickles wrote an open letter to the UK’s Muslim community asking for help in “dealing with this problem of radicalization.”


Eric Pickles in image similar to this is referred to as “The Crusader Eric Pickles”

“British values are Muslim values,” he blurted, clearly having no idea what he was talking about, before hastily adding that Islam’s “message of peace and unity” makes the country better and stronger.

British leader David Cameron waded as he always does after the fact, saying, “Anyone, frankly, reading this letter, who has a problem with it, I think really has a problem. What he is saying is that British Muslims make a great contribution to our country, that what is happening in terms of extremist terror has nothing to do with the true religion of Islam. It’s being perverted by a minority who have been radicalized. Frankly, all of us have a responsibility to try and confront this radicalization, and make sure we stop young people being drawn into this poisonous, fanatical death cult that a very small minority of people have created.”


What we have here are two people, politicians with a tremendous amount of power, who do not have the slightest idea what they’re on about. They clearly have little knowledge about Islam, the Sharī’ah, jihād, the mujāhidīn, or why Muslims are getting angrier and angrier about how the West arrogantly pushes and shoves its principles and beliefs on the rest of the world.


In original photo similar to this Getty image is the title “Crusadeers deployed in the streets after the Mujahidin’s assault”

And yet, as politicians and leaders, they have the platform to spread their opinions and influence millions of others. It’s the same rubbish we hear from Obama, Hollande, Netanyahu, and the others time and again, the old “the Islamic State is not Islamic” diatribe. How Islam is great, we really like Muslims, but only “Muslims” who conform to our definition of what a “Muslim” should be, who fits neatly into the definition of a working democracy. And whoever does not conform to this new definition of “Muslim” will be persecuted.

This, my friends, is the Anger Factory.

Governments are breeding more anger every single day with their increasingly hawkish viewpoints that simply do not work in the real world. They refuse to change or adapt. Confronted with a complex, developing situation that needs to be addressed intelligently or differently, Western governments just revert to form, and use heavy-handed police tactics or support military intervention abroad when it is exactly those responses that have been making the situation worse for decades.

Their response is often violently reactionary instead of forward-thinking. Following the attacks the French government responded by flooding the streets with troops and tanks, a completely pointless move that will only raise panic levels amongst its citizens. Following the capture of a Jordanian pilot by the Islamic State, the coalition responded by launching a night of intensive airstrikes on the city of ar-Raqqah in Syria that will only prompt the mujāhidīn to shoot down more aircraft and execute more pilots.

Just as politicians failed to spot the explosive growth of the Islamic State last year, so they failed to anticipate a surge of attacks on their home soil and are completely behind the curve on addressing the situation. The horse bolted a long time ago and the governments are only now trying to slam the stable door shut. But again, that is hardly surprising since it’s their meddling that created this dangerous cocktail in the first place.

And they’d never admit to that.

Governments will happily talk with terrorist organizations near their home soil if it suits them. Britain negotiated with the IRA and Spain negotiated with ETA Basque separatists. But when it comes to talks with Islamic groups, belligerence and aggression are the only replies, and the mujāhidīn have always posed a far greater danger than any “homegrown” outfit. So how much more of a danger is the Islamic Caliphate established by these diehard fighters!

In taking a course of belligerence, governments have set themselves down a deadly path. Every bomb dropped in Syria or Iraq serves as a recruitment tool for the Islamic State. It’s an unwise course of action when there are millions of Muslims living in those very same countries who may not be slow in coming forward to the call of jihād, and one that has irrefutably led to the situation that is now blowing up in their faces both at home and abroad.

This absolute refusal of governments to see the bigger picture and take any kind of remedial action has been starkly brought home to me in my small world.

I’ve been allowed access to a number of news reports and Twitter feeds regarding my situation, and about the only thing I’m aware that the British government has done in my case is to comment pointlessly on the release of my videos.

“We are aware of the release of another video and are studying its contents,” a Foreign Office spokesman will say. Awesome. Good job. Family and friends have done far more for the other Britons and myself who were imprisoned out here. I’m even aware of an online campaign that’s been launched by some of my old friends to try and get my story represented before the government. Thanks guys, I hope it has some effect but really, asking the government to help when it’s they who set the rules in the first place mat prove fruitless.

Because in my case, the British government was entirely happy to watch as an 81 year-old man made a film asking for my release from his hospital bed, then die because he didn’t want to see his youngest son executed. That was my dad. They were okay with a mother of three children making a video asking the Islamic State personally to “re-initiate direct contact,” without getting involved themselves. That was my sister. And they were fine with a woman doing multiple interviews with the media trying to drum up awareness for the situation while they did nothing. That was my fiancé, whom I hope now has long since forgotten me and moved on.

To them also I say thank you, thank you so much for your tireless efforts. But let it go. Leave it be and get on with your lives, all of you. What can the remnants of one family, smashed and emotionally exhausted after two years of searching, be expected to do by themselves while the government, so full of intelligence officials, think tanks, and pompous men in suits, sits back impassively and does nothing?

In doing so Cameron and his friends have drawn me into the Anger Factory for the suffering they’ve made my family endure. My father was getting on a bit but he wasn’t that unwell when I saw him last, and I hold the apparent lack of any political support for my family, and therefore the government, partially responsible for his death.

Incidentally, please don’t mistake this for “poor me.” I do so hate self-commentary and merely use myself as an example.

If you don’t fit into one of the neat slots government has created for you, then you’ve fallen through the mesh of regular society and will either have your name on a list or be stoically ignored as the situation dictates. And it’s not just the politicians. The media too can sadly be remarkably indifferent in their approach. This makes sense when you remember that the majority of the print media are right-wing today also (in the UK, the Telegraph, Times, Daily Mail, Sunday Times, and The Sun are all batting for the Conservatives) and so all feed into the same system. Very few reports look at the bigger picture or ask questions like, “Should the government have helped more?” Or, “Can we prevent this from happening again?” Or even, “What can be done to help families in this situation?”

Of late, and sticking with my situation as the example, they simply report I have made another video and appear to make little effort to penetrate any deeper than surface level.

“John Cantlie, 43, plays the role of TV correspondent in the video walking around Mosul in what appears to be an attempt by the militants to show that life is ‘business as usual’ in the ISIS-controlled city in northern Iraq,” said Mashable on 3rd January. “Intended to show that life is carrying on as normal in the Jihadist controlled city of Mosul, it is produced in the style of a television travelogue akin to those used on holiday programmes,” said The Telegraph on 3rd January.

“Mr Cantlie says he accepted ‘long ago’ that his fate is ‘overwhelmingly likely’ to be the same as other captives,” said the Express on 4th January.

In many reports there’s little commentary or analysis, just “Cantlie does another film and talks about this and that.” It’s great that the media think my situation is worth commenting on if it makes people think beyond the obvious but surely the point of journalism – and there are some very good journalists out there – is always to go a little deeper than surface level. The specter of my death is always mentioned in news articles and I’ve read the same thing so many times that I have a sneaking suspicion the media can’t wait for me to be executed. I believe it’ll make their day if I have my head chopped off.

One internet site, Newsday 24/7, was so eager for me to die they published a story about it in very bad English on 13th December. “Source within the Islamic state told Newsday 24/7 that British journalist, John Cantlie is executed by the group,” it said without, clearly, making any kind of verifiable check on such a serious statement. Amazing. I suggest to my family that they have a hacker shut that website down for the anguish such a report must have caused them.

The one sphere which does seem to ask intelligent questions and try looking at the bigger picture is the public. The changing face of media in the last 10 years means the public don’t have to rely on the same media that they’ve become so tired of over the years, and generate their own, which is often much faster, always more interesting, and sometimes more reliable. Everyday people are more open minded to a developing world and the things that happen inside it and less controlled by the meddling of government in what they read. In many ways, social media has become a more powerful tool than “real” media, as long as you’re not hypnotized by the illusory trends that social media can sometimes wrongly convey.

These days, it’s the public who have become the news-gatherers and the journalists read what they say. “Is ISIS playing a game of cat and mouse with #JohnCantlie?” asked one tweeter on 3rd January. “Playing with and taunting their captive until they kill him? Hope not but fear so.”

“ISIS twitter accounts can’t get enough of #JohnCantlie,” said another tweeter. “It’s forgotten he is a hostage with a cut throat hanging over his head.” And my favourite comment, also tweeted on 3rd January. “Funny how an Islamic State prisoner looks happier and more free than most of us living in the west.”

Interesting, thought-provoking stuff, people asking tough questions and airing ideas that are nowhere to be seen in the mainstream media. The truth of the matter, for anyone who is interested, is that I’m making the most of my situation. Way back in September I said I would speak out against our deceitful governments for as long as the mujāhidīn allowed me to live, and now in February that still remains the case.

If the mujāhidīn ask me to shoot a video or write an article that in some small way sticks it to a political system that simply doesn’t care about its citizens, despite endlessly saying the contrary, then I jump at the chance. I’ve seen dozens of videos of Cameron saying how much he values the lives of the British public, but actions sometimes speak louder than words and that isn’t what I’ve witnessed when it comes to the families of British citizens held in Syria.


John Cantlie remains with the Islamic State (image Al Hayat)

It’s a strange thing, to harbor real anger towards your government. For me it’s a new sensation, politics never touched me before because I lived blissfully under the radar. I’d never voted in my life because I figured that all politicians were, by nature, public school liars who would just say whatever needed to be said to get into power and then do exactly the same as the leader before them except wearing a different-colored tie.

Now, having been exposed first-hand to the cold indifference of politicians and how utterly ruthless they are when the chips are really down, I realize how right I was in the first instance. (1)

Despite being a prisoner, I’ve been shown respect and kindness, which I haven’t seen from my own government. Even if I had the choice, could I honestly return to and live in a country that disowned the other Britons, all their families, and myself so contemptuously?

I don’t think so.”


(1) Editor’s Note: The major evil found in voting within the democratic system is not due to the false promises of the two-faced politicians, rather due to what it entails of ascribing the rights and attributes of Allah – including the right of legislation – to men. Accordingly, it is a form of major shirk. {Or do they have deities who have legislated for them a religion which Allah has not permitted? But if not for the decisive word, it would have been concluded between them. And indeed, the wrongdoers will have a painful punishment} [Ash-Shūrā: 21].



I appeal to the Islamic State as a Muslim revert sister to free John Cantlie as I appeal to the US to free Shaker Aamer… so both may return to the UK…  Who has the most humanity?

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.

2 Responses to In the interests of “free speech”….. John Cantlie writes from Islamic State

  1. freeradikal says:

    Your perception of so many issues lacks an understanding of nuance of the subject, and a disturbing jihadist empathy.

    • Thank-you for your comment. I have shown an article as written by a person living under Islamic State. It may make uncomfortable reading but the article penned by a person in challenging circumstances was not written to make people feel comfortable, that’s the point.If John is ever at home again, like Bowe Bergdahl he will likely explain his own circumstances in more detail.

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