A new video released Saturday shows a British photojournalist held captive by Islamic State giving a stylized media tour of the embattled northern Iraqi city of Mosul -- visiting a market, a hospital and even climbing on a police motorcycle to refute reports that the city’s infrastructure has been crippled.
The video provides a window on a city that has largely been off-limits to the media since Islamic State seized control in June, although reports have trickled out through residents and those who have escaped.
“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,” hostage John Cantlie says as he appears to be driving to the souk, or market.
“This isn't a city living in fear, as the Western media would have you believe. This is just a normal city going about its daily business.”
Saturday’s video, lasting just over eight minutes, is one of a series in which Cantlie, 43, has faulted Western governments while praising Islamic State and their new “caliphate.” Its authenticity was still being examined late Saturday. It was not immediately clear under what circumstances he made the video.
The date of the recording could not be independently verified, but Cantlie references news reports from the fall and notes the “sunny December weather.”
In the video, Cantlie stops at the market, which he describes as “bustling.” He notes that the city’s merchants, contrary to media reports, have more than a few hours of electricity a day.
Later in the video, Cantlie visits a hospital where he says children are being treated for “psychiatric problems as a direct result of bombs and explosions falling from above” -- a reference to U.S.-led airstrikes.
“We're told that just two days ago an ambulance was hit by a bomb or a missile that fell from an aircraft,” Cantlie says as he stands inside the hospital. “Despite these things the doctors are getting what they need and the Islamic State is prevailing - they can take it.”
Moments later, Cantlie appears standing outside as a plane passes overhead, shouting and apparently mocking Western powers.
“Here! Here! Over here! You've come to rescue me again? Do something! Useless! Absolutely useless!” he shouts, waving his arms.
Cantlie, who has been held for two years, appears healthier and cleaner shaven than in the last video, wearing blue jeans and a Western winter coat instead of the black shirt and trousers from the last video, an outfit that replaced the orange U.S.-style prison jumpsuit he and other hostages had been forced to wear in prior videos.
His previous propaganda video made in the Syrian border town of Kobani appears at the end of the latest video, playing on a screen behind Cantlie as he stands outside.
“It just goes to show the stretch of territory the Islamic State holds all the way from Kobani (and there I am in the background) to all the way here in Mosul (and here I am on the streets),” Cantlie says. “That was me then and this is me now. It just shows how much territory the Islamic State are controlling.”
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