Perennial Islamic State hostage/spokesman John Cantlie has once again resurfaced in an ISIS propaganda video, this time touring the destruction in the ISIS-held areas of Mosul and interviewing local men sympathetic to the terrorist group, who appear increasingly frustrated with the lack of resources and difficultly getting around the city.
Cantlie last appeared in a video in July, which followed similar themes of showing how much damage the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State had done to Iraq’s second-largest city, under Islamic State control for the past two years.
The latest video, dated December 7, follows a similar pattern. Cantlie tours the destruction of four of Mosul’s five bridges and interviews locals struggling to find water and commute on largely destroyed roads. Cantlie’s heavy coat suggests that the date on the video’s label, if not exact, is at least approximate, as Mosul suffers harsh winters.
“Mosul is a city of bridges,” Cantlie explains
, noting that now only one bridge over the Tigris River survives, and it is suffering heavy traffic as it is the only remaining route across. He notes that “Muslims going about their business [are] absolutely being stopped in their tracks” and asks, “If this is the coalition’s war against the mujihadeen
, why are they waging it against the Muslims of Mosul?”
Cantlie also tours local wells, discussing how the ISIS-controlled neighborhoods of Mosul are rapidly running out of water. The camera focuses on children carrying large canteens of water, as the lack of electricity has taken away their access to running water. “These are just kids, normal families, not mujihadeen,” Cantlie repeats.
Cantlie later reiterates that argument, claiming that the jihadis fighting for the Islamic State are “out there fighting on the front lines,” not embedded in Sunni communities. “The effect these bombs are having on the every day people of mosul is quite distressing,” he laments.
The civilians Cantlie encounters do not speak noticeably differently from the mujihadeen, however, repeatedly calling for “revenge” on the “infidels” for their war on the Islamic State. “People are suffering, may Allah take revenge,” one man mutters as he tries to replenish his water supply at a well. Another man stuck in traffic protests that the coalition is seeking to kill all Sunni Muslims.
Cantlie’s July video from Mosul
followed a similar pattern. He toured areas of Mosul the coalition had attacked and accused anti-ISIS forces of destroying priceless artifacts and institutions, disregarding the fact that the Islamic State has actively waged war
against non-Muslim antiquity. “The level of destruction is absolutely massive. Mosul University was the biggest and finest in all of Iraq,” he said in that video, blaming the “infidels” for destroying the institution of higher learning.
Cantlie’s July video came as something of a surprise, as the Islamic State had published articles
with his byline in their publication, Dabiq
, in which he bid public life farewell, indicating that the terrorists may have decided to kill him. These pieces of propaganda all surfaced before Iraq announced the operation to liberate Mosul, alongside Shiite militias, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and the United States, which has reportedly freed an estimated fifth
of the city in the past month and a half.
The Iraqi military has confirmed Cantlie’s claim that four of Mosul’s five bridges
have been destroyed and many of its roads “cratered.” The objective of these operations, however, is to prevent Islamic State jihadis from using cars as suicide bombs, their most common method of attack in the city so far. “The coalition disabled four of the five bridges in Mosul and ‘cratered’ roads used by ISIS with their VBIEDs,” the Kurdish outlet Rudaw reported last week.
Cantlie also omits the facts regarding the Islamic State’s own inhuman treatment of civilians in the city. The terrorists have killed dozens of civilians who have attempted to flee the city, including a seven-year-old child
shot to death running towards city limits. Fellow jihadis fearing death at the hands of the Iraqi military who have attempted to flee have reportedly been incinerated in hot oil
to set an example to others seeking to desert the terrorist group.