An ISIS propaganda video featuring kidnapped British journalist James Cantlie purports to depict life in the Iraqi city of Mosul as "business as usual" nearly six months after the Islamic State stunned the world by capturing the city and declaring a caliphate.
Since then, ISIS has come to control a 400-mile stretch between northern Iraq and Syria and executed nearly 2,000 people in Syria as of Dec. 27. As of early November, at least 1,000 people had been executed in Iraq, mostly in ISIS-controlled territory, International Business Times previously reported.
At the same time, U.S. airstrikes have cut down on the Islamic State's oilfield revenues, a key source of cash, and, as the Guardian reported, ISIS "has little ability to deal with shortages and unemployment."
This latest ISIS video, released Saturday, takes aim at what it calls "Western media" depictions of a terrified citizenry and struggles to access basic public services. Cantlie specifically references an Oct. 27 Guardian article about Mosul's garbage-strewn streets, electricity shortages and other markers of economic collapse and repression.
“This is not a city living in fear as the Western media would have you believe,” says Cantlie, who was captured in Syria in 2012, according to the BBC, and who has appeared in previous ISIS propaganda videos. Last year ISIS executed four Western hostages on video: American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and Britons David Haines and Alan Henning.
The appoximately eight-minute clip adopts a news report style, with Cantlie in the role of correspondent, similar to an October video. The camera follows Cantlie as he navigates Mosul by car, tours a local market, visits what he says is Mosul's "main hospital," and takes a spin on what appears to be a police motorcycle.
"The media likes to paint a picture of life in the Islamic state as depressed, people walking around as subjugated citizens, in chains, beaten down by strict, totalitarian rule," Cantlie says. "But really apart from some rather chilly, but very sunny, December weather, life here in Mosul is business as usual."