New John Cantlie Video: Inside Halab

John Cantlie is back with a new video, which he says is "the last of this series." You can watch it here. I don't think it means he will be killed, just that future videos will be different. ISIS would be silly to kill him, he's the best public relations spokesman they have. Then again, ISIS likes to do things for shock value, and it would indeed be a shock to learn this personable Brit was killed, despite all he has done promoting the Islamic State. [More...]

Cantlie gives a tour of Halab, showing the bombs that have caused mass destruction. The bombs are dropped in civilian areas, including the market. He says the drones of the U.S. are always overhead, causing damage, and says they must be working with Syria.

He shows the beautiful countryside and banks of the Euphrates River, which are still pristine. He shows the waiting room of a Sharia Court. And he interviews a French fighter who urges Muslims to attack Westerners in their home countries.

The video is 11 minutes long and has no violence. It's well worth watching.

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    I'm not sure what would make this (5.00 / 7) (#1)
    by Anne on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 02:06:56 PM EST
    latest propaganda video well worth watching; I truly just don't get it.

    I think that it is a terrible mistake to ever think these videos adequately represent, or help anyone truly understand, the minds of those who are members of this organization.  Please know that I do not mean any disrespect when I say this, Jeralyn, but there's a level of naivete, and a sort of glamorization present in  these ISIS-related posts that makes me very uncomfortable.

    John Cantlie is a hostage who wants to live; however normal or congenial he appears to be, it's hard not to think about what kinds of treatment he has been subjected to and what damage it has done to his psyche.  We know about the horrors ISIS has inflicted on others; there's no amount of lovely travelogue-style propaganda videos, or "public relations," that is ever going to make me okay with that.

    I don't think I will be reading any more of these posts; I'm still trying to get over the one devoted to the size of the knives these people are using to cut off living people's heads.

    Ditto (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Uncle Chip on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 02:22:15 PM EST
    Ditto for me --

    I totally agree (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Zorba on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 02:36:56 PM EST
    I wish I could give you a "10" rating for this comment.

    Anne: Thank you for stating this. (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by christinep on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 04:22:04 PM EST
    While recognizing that there is always more than one side to any story ... are the postings to which you refer supposed to suggest that ISIL is only somewhat less barbaric than the images & reality that this killing group itself broadly advertises because a captive Brit has been selected to front for them!?! The ISIL travesties that the world has been forced to witness & endure have led to a level of international crisis ... they are neither film actors in a horror flick nor defendants in a criminal trial or participants in a negotiation. By any definition, ISIL is a terrorist group.

    Likewise, I agree with you, Anne, about being increasingly uncomfortable.  


    Is this serious? (5.00 / 5) (#5)
    by Reconstructionist on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 05:10:01 PM EST
    "ISIS would be silly to kill him, he's the best public relations spokesman they have."

       Have you actually concluded that ISIS is motivated by a desire to be perceived favorably?

    yes, why do you think they make (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 09:42:34 PM EST
    so many videos of life inside the cities, of schools, factories, sharia courts (without images punishments being applied), and with man in the street interviews and videos of them distributing goods to the needy? They want very much to be perceived as a state doing a better job of providing essential services than the current regimes. The media just doesn't publish these videos or report on this aspect of ISIS to the same degree it reports the violence and killings.  

    ISIS doesn't view itself as a terrorist group, but as a state providing for its citizens, implementing Sharia law and defending itself against aggression. It expends a great deal of resources on its media arms to present itself in a positive light as a state.

    Whether it is succeeding, is another matter. Most would agree it is not. But Cantlie is a valuable resource for them.


    It seems to be succeeding with you, which (5.00 / 5) (#7)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 11, 2015 at 09:17:34 AM EST
    I think may be what some people are finding both puzzling and disturbing.

    Puzzling because history is replete with despots and dictators and cruel leaders who rose to success by making the citizens economically beholden to them, and it seems clear -  to me, at least - that that dynamic is at work here, too.  "Do what we say and live as we decree and you will never go hungry; disobey or fail to be loyal and we will lop off your head" is authoritarian tyranny, Jeralyn.  A full belly and a roof over one's head does not make that okay.

    Disturbing because, well, I don't know why you seem so determined to explain or defend this group's positives, and seem to be complaining that the media hasn't been fair to them.  I'm sorry, but I don't think you're ever going to sell ISIS as a humanitarian organization as long as it continues its campaign to eradicate all those who don't believe as they do, and do it in the most inhumane ways possible.


    I'm not "selling" anything (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Feb 11, 2015 at 01:54:13 PM EST
    It's a basic premise that in order to defeat your enemy you first must understand them. You can continue to view ISIS through your personal, myopic lens. I choose not to. I'm interested in how they view themselves and their beliefs. If that makes you uncomfortable, don't read. And when you comment, please don't misrepresent my intentions which I've clearly stated many times.

    I, for one, (none / 0) (#11)
    by lentinel on Wed Feb 11, 2015 at 09:01:50 PM EST
    am very grateful for your posts on this subject.

    You are providing me with information I have seen nowhere else.

    I wish there were more reporters with the kind of depth you so regularly display here.

    Thank you.


    For someone who rails regularly about (5.00 / 4) (#12)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 11, 2015 at 09:54:35 PM EST
    the propaganda our own government dishes up for us, you seem remarkably willing to entertain the possibility that truth and fact are what you are seeing and hearing in these ISIS videos.  At the same time, you also brook no excuse, tolerate no extenuating circumstances, see no redeeming value or logic in what OUR government has been engaging in in the region, and regularly blister the hides off the powers that be behind it all.

    I'm not much for enabling our government in their actions either, and I rarely take at face value anything they say, so it makes no sense to me that you're willing to try to "understand" ISIS.

    I don't get that.

    Is there any truth in these video productions?  Probably.  But what's truth and what isn't?  How would you even begin to know?  Would I like to know?  Sure.  I'm not sure what difference it would make, but I'd rather deal in fact than fiction, and I'd rather not even subject myself to propaganda that, in spite of the skepticism people arm themselves with, is designed to fk with your head.

    I mean, good Lord, John Cantlie's head has likely been fked with six ways from Sunday, don't you think?  Got any idea what someone held hostage by people who cut off people's heads would do and say to keep his own?  

    I'm all for knowing the enemy, but here's the thing for me: "understanding" these people isn't going to make their victims any less dead.  Hearing them talk about how they see themselves is an exercise in vanity, and really - are you going to feel better about who they are and what they're doing as a result?  Do you feel better hearing Dick Cheney engage in the vanity of explaining why he believes that we were right to torture and he'd do it again in a heartbeat?

    Did it help us defeat him?  Oh, right - no, it didn't.  No one's been able to touch him.

    I'm not trying to be rude or disrespectful, I'm just expressing my opinion that I think it's extremely naive, and by extension dangerous, to provide a platform for propaganda in the belief that somehow it's going to help us understand a group of people who seem determined to wipe off the face of the earth anyone and everyone who doesn't believe as they do.

    On some level, I appreciate Jeralyn's essential interest in knowing more about ISIS, but on another level, I know that these are not people who can be reasoned with, no matter how much we think we know about them.

    That's not, in my opinion, "myopic," it's realistic.


    I don't feel (none / 0) (#13)
    by lentinel on Wed Feb 11, 2015 at 11:32:26 PM EST
    that you are being rude or disrespectful, but I can't understand what makes you say:
    ...you seem remarkably willing to entertain the possibility that truth and fact are what you are seeing and hearing in these ISIS videos.

    Nothing of the kind.

    I am just glad that, since they exist, Jeralyn references them and I have an opportunity to watch should I so choose.

    It is quite a leap you are making to assume anything at all about how I feel about the content.

    I don't consider Jeralyn's posting of this information to in any way be equivalent to providing a "platform for propaganda". We're presumably adults here, aren't we, and can make up our own minds about what is bs and what isn't.


    Jeralyn hasn't "defended" them at all. (none / 0) (#8)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Feb 11, 2015 at 01:22:59 PM EST
    What she's done is assemble a bit of context for us to consider.  Know thy enemy.  

    You can bet your last cliche that those on the pointy end of the battle against ISIS/ISIL know this stuff, if only to know how and where their targets spend their time.


    I think (none / 0) (#10)
    by lentinel on Wed Feb 11, 2015 at 06:47:18 PM EST
    that the disturbing fact is that nothing is black and white. Not even ISIS.

    We routinely burn people alive - via drones. It is not at up front and personal as when it was done to that soul in the cage. But the victims are just as burned and suffer as much pain before death mercifully frees them from their agony.

    But we are not an inherently evil people.

    Something is permitting and even encouraging horrific acts - even barbaric acts. ISIS commits them. We have committed them, and both sides continue to do so. In my opinion.

    I think it is important to try to recognize and understand what drives people to these extremes.

    It is too easy, imo, to simply call these people evil - and let it go at that. That is, if we hope to defuse them.