John Cantlie: Sister makes impassioned plea to Islamic State for direct negotiation

Cantlie revealed militant group had frozen communication with the family

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The Independent Online

The sister of the British hostage John Cantlie has made an impassioned plea to Islamic State militants holding her brother to “restart dialogue” with her family.

Jessica Cantlie revealed that the militant group had frozen communication with the Cantlie family, and described claims that negotiation was not possible as “not accurate” and “frustrating”.

It came in response to an article published over the weekend in which Mr Cantlie  appeared to call on the British government to negotiate with the militant group in a last-ditch attempt to save his life.  “Our political leaders have the power, if they choose to change things,” a piece written under Mr Cantlie’s name in the Isis online magazine, Dabiq, said. “Just ask our government to talk. That’s all. Open a channel and negotiate with the Islamic State like the others did. If nothing is possible to agree on, then fine, but it cannot compromise policy to open a dialogue.”  But Ms Cantlie refuted this version of events. “It is not true to say that there has been no attempt to engage with Isis.  It is simply not accurate,” she said. “This is frustrating for all parties, including those who are trying to assist us. We had previously been in contact through a channel started by you, but then this stopped for reasons best known to you.  “

Criticism over Western hostage policy has intensified since the murder of British hostages Alan Henning and David Haines and Americans Stephen Sotloff and James Foley. The statement added: “Sadly, like the families of David Haines and Alan Henning before they were killed, our efforts at re-opening dialogue continue to be ignored by those holding John.”

Note in full:

“I am Jessica, John Cantlie’s sister. I am talking on behalf of the head of the Cantlie family. My father, Paul, is terminally ill and incapacitated.  We, John’s family, want to address Islamic State, who are holding him.

In the recent ‘broadcast’ of ‘Lend me your Ears’ and within your online publication ‘Dabiq’, John's words are powerful and have huge resonance.  It is not true to say that there has been no attempt to engage with I.S.  It is simply not accurate.  This is frustrating for all parties, including those who are trying to assist us.  We had previously been in contact through a channel started by you, but then this stopped for reasons best known to you.  Sadly, like the families of David Haines and Alan Henning before they were killed, our efforts at re-opening dialogue continue to be ignored by those holding John.

We strongly challenge those holding John to return to your previously opened channel, to which we continue to send messages and await your response so that in keeping with everyone's wishes, we can restart dialogue. We implore I.S. to reinitiate direct contact.”

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