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Militants release hostage video

Islamic militants have released a propaganda video featuring a British hostage believed to be journalist John Cantlie.

The video shows a man who identifies himself as Mr Cantlie sitting at a desk, looking calm and reading from a prepared script, saying he would talk about the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) movement.

It is the latest footage showing a British hostage to emerge from IS militants, following the brutal murder of David Haines and the threat to kill aid worker Alan Henning.

Mr Cantlie, a photojournalist who has worked for newspapers including the Sunday Times, said he was a prisoner and his "fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic State".

The footage, which appears to be well produced with good quality sound and lighting, shows Mr Cantlie dressed in the now familiar orange outfit worn by other hostages in IS videos.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the BBC the Foreign Office would examine the video to "look at its origins and check its veracity".

He added: "I don't think we need any reminding of what an odious and barbaric movement Isil is.

"They call themselves Islamic State, (but) they are nothing to do with Islam, which is a peace-loving religion, they are certainly not a state, it's just a murderous mediaeval terrorist outfit.

"Their methods are cynical, they are violent, they are brutal and I think it is right that the world will be coming together next week at the United Nations general assembly, which will be a very important get together for world leaders, to really decide how the world co-operates together in support of the legitimate governments in the region in order to, bit by bit, dismantle and squeeze Isil out of existence."

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters in Denmark that he was aware of the video but had not yet seen it.

He said: "These videos can be very distressing for the families of the individuals involved."

Asked if he had any news on Mr Henning, the Foreign Secretary said: "I have nothing to add on the situation of the hostages.

"Obviously we are doing everything we can to support them and their families, but you wouldn't expect me to give a running commentary."

Mr Cantlie's statement indicated there would be more "programmes".

The photographer said he had worked for the Sunday Times, Sun and Sunday Telegraph, said he had been captured by IS in Syria in 2012.

He was previously taken hostage in July 2012, but was liberated by the Free Syrian Army only to be recaptured after returning to Syria.

The release of the footage came after British Muslims urged IS to free Mr Henning as he remains under threat of beheading.

Various representatives of the Muslim community have issued pleas to IS fighters to release the 47-year-old.

Mr Henning was shown in a video ahead of his trip to Syria last December saying the dangerous journey is "worthwhile" to help those in need.

Majid Freeman, who travelled to Syria with Mr Henning, made a direct appeal to his captors.

"Please show him some mercy and understand he is a humanitarian aid worker. He's not a fighter, he's not come there for no political reasons, he's come there strictly to help the people," he said in a BBC interview.

More than 100 Muslim leaders have signed a statement to IS pleading for his release and criticising them as "monsters" for the brutal murder of Mr Haines.

"We, the undersigned British Muslim Imams, organisations and individuals, wish to express our horror and revulsion at the senseless murder of David Haines and the threat to the life of our fellow British citizen, Alan Henning," said the leaders in a letter published in the Independent.

They said those holding Mr Henning hostage must accept that what they are doing is against the Koran and "constitutes the worst condemnable sin".

In another appeal online, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, representing British Muslim aid workers, told of the various ways Mr Henning had raised money to bring to Syria, having been moved by the plight of people there.

In an emotional speech to the camera Mr al-Baghdadi said: "You have the ability to spare the life of this innocent man. We beg you to tread the path of justice and show him the compassion that Allah has placed in the hearts of the believers and in your heart."


From Belfast Telegraph