(TheBlaze/AP) — An American freelance journalist who has been missing in Syria since mid-August has been shown in a video clip posted online, blindfolded and saying “Oh, Jesus” in an exhausted voice in the custody of armed men.
The video, which came to light Monday, was the first sign of Austin Tice’s condition since he disappeared more than seven weeks ago. Tice, a 31-year-old former Marine, had been reporting on Syria’s civil war for The Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers and others.
The Tice family confirmed to several media outlets that their son appears in the video.
In the video, Tice tries to recite the Muslim declaration of faith, or shahada, but then switches to English and says, “oh Jesus, oh Jesus” and rests his head on someone’s arm.
Though the video shows a group of captors dressed like Islamic extremists shouting “Allahu Akbar” over and over, the clip reportedly contains a number of discrepancies making many question who, exactly, is holding Tice.
In the weeks after Tice went missing, the Czech government– which represents American interests in Syria– said it had information that Tice was in Syrian government custody, not the custody of rebel extremists. The production quality of the video, the dress of the captors, and the way the video was released to the public apparently don’t fit the profile of Jabhat al-Nusra, which is being blamed for the man’s kidnapping.
The video was posted online Sept. 26, but went unnoticed until Monday when a pro-government Syrian media Facebook page posted it with the caption: “To those who accuse the Syrian army, American journalist Austin Tice is in the hands of al-Nusra Front and al-Qaida gangs in Syria.”
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday she could not verify whether the video “represents an actual scene that happened or something that may have been staged.”
“You know, there’s a lot of reason for the Syrian government to duck responsibility, but we continue to believe that, to the best of our knowledge, we think he is in Syrian government custody,” she said.
Tice’s father told CNN: “Though it is difficult to see our eldest son in such a setting and situation as the one depicted in the video, it is reassuring that he appears to be unharmed.”
Here is the full video: