British journalist John Cantlie, held captive by the Islamic State group since 2012, appeared in its latest propaganda video released on Monday. Cantlie, who has previously featured in several ISIS videos released over the last six months, calls this one the “last in this series.”
The 12-minute documentary-style video, titled “From Inside Halab,” features Cantlie walking through what he claims is the Syrian city of Aleppo, referred to by its historic name of Halab. In the video, Cantlie is shown visiting several locations in the ISIS-held city, including a marketplace, a religious school and a “media distribution center” -- a corrugated shack on the sidewalk handing out anti-West propaganda material to counter the “news that comes from the West.”
The HD-quality video is shot in a style similar to the ones titled “Inside Ayn al-Islam” and “Inside Mosul” in which Cantlie gives a guided tour of the Syrian cities under ISIS control.
In the latest video, the British journalist, who has previously written for The Sunday Telegraph, The Sun and The Sunday Times, alleges that the U.S.-led coalition is collaborating with Syrian President Bashar Assad to carry out airstrikes in civilian areas of the city.
“The rich cultural heritage of this city has largely been destroyed in over two years of war,” Cantlie says, adding that the city has been subjected to “indiscriminate bombing by Assad air force, which has now been joined by U.S. warplanes.”
Cantlie also points out a surveillance drone flying overhead and claims that though the drone is American, an airstrike shown immediately afterward was carried out by the Syrian regime's warplanes, suggesting that the U.S. military is working closely with Assad's regime to identify targets in the city. “The mujahideen really don't care how many eyes in the sky are looking down on them … they are not fazed by the bombing,” Cantlie says.
Cantlie is also seen interviewing several militants, including a French jihadist who expresses “happiness” over the recent attacks in Paris and urges French Muslims to carry out “lone-wolf” attacks. Cantlie also visits a Sharia court where he attempts to justify the harsh punishments meted out under ISIS’ interpretation of Islamic law.
“It's the West who are acting aggressively,” he adds. “The people of Halab just want to get on with their lives in peace and that is more possible now since the Islamic State took over.”
Cantlie, who was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012, is believed to be the only remaining Western national in ISIS captivity. Since August last year, the militant group has released videos showing the executions of several hostages, including three Americans, two Britons and two Japanese nationals.