British hostage John Cantlie has appeared in a new Islamic State propaganda video titled “Inside Halab (Aleppo)”. The 12-minute video was produced by IS’ foreign language division al-Hayat Media Center, and distributed via social media today.
In the video, the captive journalist walks through the rubble of heavily bombed Aleppo, showing how the city, despite having been “smashed to rubble” by US-led coalition bombings, as well as the Syrian army, still functions under IS and enjoys a “thriving economy.”
Cantlie then appears inside of a school run by IS. “One of the common accusations of the West is that under the Islamic State, education will suffer,” Cantlie says, “But here in Halab, these young men are learning Qur’an recital and languages and, with any luck, they will form the mujahideen for the next generation in this region.”
Cantlie talks about drone surveillance of the area by coalition forces and drone strikes against IS. Cantlie claims the jihadists are not affected by the bombings and often “enjoy a relaxing cup of tea,” continue to build new homes in Aleppo, and just “getting on with it.”
A recently bomb-attacked market is next on the list of places Cantlie visits. Through Cantlie, the IS alleges that U.S. drones identify targets and the Syrian regime launches airstrikes on them. “All this follows a drone which we saw five minutes ago, and then Assad’s air force comes in and drops bombs on the market,” Cantlie says. “Now, as far as I know, the Syrian Air Force does not have drones. That must have been an American drone. That was definitely an Assad bomb dropping here on the market. So what’s going on? Someone is working with someone around here to drop bombs.”
Next, seen sitting inside an Islamic State court, Cantlie talks about Shari’ah law. “It is one-thousand four-hundred years old, and it is the rule of God, the rule of Allah, and therefore it cannot be changed, unlike the laws of democratic countries which change to fit every circumstance or to fit every different week,” Cantlie says. “The rules of Shariah are remarkably simple, if you are convicted of robbery with the correct number of witnesses and such forth, you have your hand cut off. Sounds harsh, but you’re not going to commit the same crime again, and it will dissuade others from doing the same.”
“Like any other law court in the world, they’re playing TV in the background,” Cantlie says as he sits with others in the Sharia’ah court waiting room. “This being the Islamic State, they’re playing Islamic State videos. I must say, they’re a lot more entertaining than watching the news at six.”
Finally, Cantlie interviews 2 IS fighters, one of whom calls for more attacks in France. The interviewed French fighter indicated that he and colleagues learned about the Paris attacks only a few days before, which potentially dates that video segment as being recorded in early- to mid-January 2015. The fighter urges Muslims in France to carry out more lone-wolf attacks, and warning attacking nations of the West, “we have also come to strike you, and we are already there to attack you. Muslims in the West number in the millions, and they are capable of inflicting mass carnage. So I call on them to move forward and do what is obligatory on them in support of their religion.”
Cantlie indicated that this is the last video in the “From Inside…” series, in which he gave tours of Kobane and Mosul in previous episodes. Cantlie also appears in an earlier series titled “Lend Me Your Ears,” and has written articles for IS’ DABIQ magazine. The Islamic State has held Cantlie captive for more than two years now.