Video footage has emerged showing Austin Tice, an American journalist missing in Syria since August, alive but allegedly being held by a group of masked gunmen.
The 47-second clip, posted on YouTube and titled "Austin Tice still alive," shows him blindfolded and disoriented, attempting to recite an Islamic prayer before crying out, "Oh, Jesus."
The men surrounding Tice, 31, a freelancer who contributed stories to numerous news outlets, including The Washington Post — which ran a story on the video's emergence — and McClatchy, behave like militant Islamists, calling out "God is great!"
However, there is some suspicion the video was staged as the militants appear out of place. An example of this is they are wearing outfits commonly seen on fighters operating in Afghanistan, called salwar khameez, according to the Miami Herald.
And US State Department suggested that the Syrian government was behind Tice's disappearance.
"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," State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said.
The clip was posted onto YouTube on Sept. 26 and discovered by a wider audience Monday after appearing on a Facebook page associated with supporters of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
McClatchy quoted Tice's parents, Marc and Debra, as saying in a statement:
Knowing Austin is alive and well is comforting to our family. Though it is difficult to see our son in such a setting and situation as that depicted in the video, it is reassuring that he appears to be unharmed. It is evident that the current events in Syria are challenging and difficult for everyone involved. Our wish is that peace and stability can once again return to the people of Syria and that our eldest son, Austin, will soon be safely returned to our family.
Tice had been due to travel to Lebanon to meet friends Aug. 19 or 20, however, he last exchanged email with colleagues on Aug. 13 — they believed from the Damascus suburb of Darayya.
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