By RYAN GORMAN
The newest Islamic State video starring kidnapped British journalist John Cantlie takes viewers on a bizarre tour of Mosul, Iraq, while refuting recent claims made in media reports.
The eight minute film, posted Saturday to YouTube, is the eighth in a series of propaganda films starring Cantlie as he delivers messages presumably from ISIS leadership that are aimed solely at Western audiences.
Cantlie takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of the predominantly Sunni Muslim city of two-million people while desperately attempting to shoot down reports from al Arabiya, CNN and The Guardian, among others, portraying Mosul as repressed and struggling to function.
"This is not a city living in fear, as Western media would have you believe," Cantlie says while walking through Mosul's oldest souk (outdoor market). "This is just a normal city going about its daily business."
Several individual reports that questioned the Islamic State's ability to maintain even basic services for its citizens are addressed in what appears a desperate attempt by ISIS to prove its legitimacy as a government that does not just spill blood.
The Briton starts the propaganda film "from the top of the world," which appears only to be the highest point in the Iraqi city, and then repeatedly insists to anyone willing to watch the just over eight minute film that Mosul is no different than any other large city.
"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 while driving a car through the city.
"Life here in Mosul is business as usual."
Cantlie shoots down reports the city has very little electricity and that the prices of goods and services have skyrocketed to the point of being unaffordable.
The captive reporter repeatedly claims to see "thousands of people" everywhere he goes despite cameras never leaving his face. The hordes of Iraqis are never shown.
He curiously refers to Sunni Muslims being able to walk the streets free of the repression felt under the Saddam Hussein regime, but does not reveal the fate of those from other walks of life populating the city.
Cantlie's walk through the souk, "where you can buy anything from books to lighters," he says, is filled with him repeating that Mosul is normal and filled with a thriving population.
People are seen in the souk, but they barely number in the dozens, let alone the thousands.
He also goes out of his way to knock down a report claiming the city is plagued by routine rolling blackouts.
"There are a lot of neon signs an flashing bright lights around here that have been on a lot longer than two hours in the last four days," Cantlie argues, despite those flashing lights never being shown on camera.
"There is a huge crowd around us," he claims, without ever showing us the gathered masses. "This is not an empty depressed place, it is bustling."
He then takes viewers to the wing of a local hospital populated by stone-faced children said to be "averse to loud noises" because of the constant bombing runs over the city.
"There is plenty of electricity," he again claims, adding that doctors have assured him all patients are "receiving the medicine they need."
Cantlie is then shown outside the hospital, curiously shouting at what is alleged to be a Western aircraft flying above.
"Have you come to rescue me? Drop more bombs?" He shouts while wildly flailing his arms. "Do something, useless."
The strange attack on Western media wraps up with Cantlie hopping out of a police car, notably an American-made Chevrolet, and deriding Mosul police for fleeing the city in 2004 as American forces approached.
He then goes on a laugh-filled police motorcycle ride through the city with a chuckling terrorist riding pillion as a passenger.
Cantlie then finishes up the tour of Mosul standing in the street with a monitor showing his previous messages to the West off to the side.
The video makes a sharp break from the slick production values, graphics and transitions found in ISIS films with an abrupt ending after the following statement from Cantlie.
"Playing in the background is a screen ... showing me reporting from Kobani," he says. "And now, here I am on the streets of Mosul. It just goes to show the stretch of the territory the Islamic State holds.
"All the way from Kobani, where I am in the background, all the way here in Mosul, and here I am on the streets.
"It just shows how much territory the Islamic State are controlling."
Cantlie has been in terrorist hands since being captured in Syria in 2012.