ISIS Hostage John Cantlie Releases New Video

In latest slick 'report', ISIS's British hostage drives police car, attempts to portray 'life as usual' in captured Iraqi city of Mosul.

Ari Soffer ,

Cantlie appears in latest ISIS propaganda video
Cantlie appears in latest ISIS propaganda video
Screenshot

The Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group has released an eighth video of captured British journalist John Cantlie, this time reporting from the streets of Mosul in Iraq.

In the eight-minute video, uploaded to the internet on January 3rd, Cantlie claims "life in Mosul is business as usual", despite media reports of power outages, food and medical shortages, and oppression by ISIS authorities.

As in his previous video, in which he claimed to be reporting from inside the contested city of Kobane along the Turkish border with Syria, Cantlie appears in regular civilian clothes in place of the orange jumpsuit he wore in previous videos. 

At times, he is even seen behind the wheel of a car and riding a police motorbike - although it is unclear whether he is actually doing so or simply taking part in a staged simulation. In one scene he even drives up to the camera in a police car, and claims that ISIS's police force has succeeded in stopping crime altogether, contrasting them with the Iraqi government police.

Prior to ISIS's arrival, "all the police in Mosul really learned is how to drop their weapons and run," he says.

Both Cantlie's relaxed and generally healthy appearance, as well as the content of the heavily-staged, documentary-style report, are a change of track in ISIS's use and portrayal of its western hostages. The latest video is a clear attempt by ISIS to counter media reports of an oppressive, brutal regime struggling to maintain basic services, and project instead an image of a fully-functioning state.

"The media likes to paint a picture of life in the Islamic State as depressed, people walking around as subjugated citizens in chains and beaten down by strict totalitarian rules," he says. "But really apart from the rather chilly, very sunny December weather, life here in Mosul is business as usual."

He compares the supposedly stable rule of ISIS to the "oppression of Saddam" and "descent of chaos" following the 2003 US-led invasion.

During his "report" Cantlie visits a number of locations, including a busy local souk and a hospital, claiming to show how ISIS is withstanding the aerial assault against it.

"The Islamic State is prevailing, they can take it," he says at one point.

In one bizarre, and somewhat cruel clip the camera pans up to show a coalition aircraft flying ahead, at which point Cantlie can be heard shouting, "Down here! Over here...! Try to rescue me again! Do something! Useless, absolutely useless!"

That scene may be as much a dig at two recent failed attempts by US-led forces to rescue a Jordanian air force pilot held by ISIS, as the fact that the jihadi group has been holding Cantlie himself for over two years.

ISIS has executed five western hostages in total since August last year: aid workers Alan Henning, David Haines and Peter Kassig, as well as American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. All of them were beheaded on camera in gruesome videos published online.

But while Cantlie has previously appealed for help, warning the terrorists would kill him next, the fact that the string of successive executions did nothing to halt anti-ISIS operations appears to have caused ISIS to rethink its propaganda strategy.

Commenting on the November execution of Peter Kassig, Professor Peter Neumann of King’s College Centre for Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence suggested that the fact that ISIS is running out of western hostages to kill was also significant..

"I don’t think they have decided yet what to do with Cantlie, he must be still quite useful for them."



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