Find terrorist NHS doctor: MI6 lead hunt for extremist on sabbatical from London hospital who held British journalist captive in
Intelligence services were last night trying to trace an NHS doctor who was part of a terror cell that kidnapped and shot a British photographer in Syria. The AK-47-wielding medic is part of an extremist gang that held veteran war photographer John Cantlie and a fellow western journalist hostage for a week.
A heavily bearded Islamic fanatic, he told his prisoners he had taken a sabbatical from his NHS job to wage a ‘holy war’ in Syria.
He also told them that he was planning to return to his senior post in a South London A&E department.
Last night the General Medical Council said it would be investigating Mr Cantlie’s account.
A spokesman said: ‘Protecting patients is our priority. We are looking very closely at these allegations.’
Mr Cantlie, 41, was captured last month with Dutch colleague Jeroen Oerlemans while they were covering the civil war between President Assad’s army and rebel fighters.
As he tried to flee in a botched escape attempt, Mr Cantlie was shot in the arm but was later treated by the doctor, who was using a clearly labelled NHS medical kit.
When asked his name, he told the captives: ‘Just call me the doctor – I’m the only one here.’
The medic, who said he was 28 and had a wife and child in Britain, was also among the leaders of a group who were planning to behead ‘spies’ and was furious when the execution of two Syrians he believed to be undercover agents was halted.
It comes just days after the intelligence services warned that dozens of Britons, many thought to be of Pakistani origin, were going to Syria to wage jihad, or holy war. The concern is that they will return to the UK radicalised and pose a security problem.
Mr Cantlie told the Daily Mail of his British captor: ‘When he told me he was an NHS doctor, I thought it was weird.
‘This is a man who has taken an oath to save people and help them, and here he is walking around with a Kalashnikov and preaching sharia law. There are not any doctors who I know that do that.
‘He clearly believed in what he was doing but to follow something to that extreme is the disturbing thing. He was visibly upset when the execution was called off.’
In a macabre twist, the doctor, who spoke in a South London accent and kept his face covered with sunglasses and a scarf – said he was glad of the experience in Syria as when he returned to Britain
he wanted to specialise in trauma injuries.
Mr Cantlie added: ‘He said treating jihadists wounded in battle was good training and had a pack of gauzes, medicine, IV drips and medical gear.