October 17th, 2012

Suspect Arrested in Kidnapping of Photographer

British authorities have charged a 26-year old man with illegally detaining UK photographer John Cantlie and Dutch journalist Jeroen Oerlemans in Syria last July, according to a BBC report.

Shajul Islam, a British citizen who allegedly has ties to Syrian jihadists, was arrested October 9 upon returning to the UK on a flight from Cairo. Police charged him with the kidnapping after searching his home in London.

Cantlie and Oerlemans were held against their will for a week last July by Islamic militants in Syria. They were rescued by a Free Syrian Army group, and Cantlie told The Guardian after his release that he and Oerlemans were constantly threatened with death. They were both shot and slightly injured in an unsuccessful attempt to escape. Their captors were holding them for ransom, they said.

Cantlie reported to British authorities after his release that one of his captors spoke with a South London accent and had claimed to be a doctor working for the British National Health Service. Cantlie also reported seeing the NHS logo on medical equipment during his captivity.

Prosecutors said at a court hearing yesterday that Shajul Islam had been a doctor-in-training in London, and that he had gone to Syria to work as a medic for a jihadist group there.

Islam returned to the UK October 9 with his wife and two-year-old daughter. His wife was also arrested, but she was released without any charges filed against her.