The Islamic State (IS) released a video of British captive John Cantlie giving a tour inside cities in Syria’s Aleppo governorate, reporting from a bomb-attacked market, a school, and a Shariah Court, and interviewing two fighters, one of whom calls for attacks in France. The 12-minute video was produced by the IS’ foreign language division, al-Hayat Media Center, and was distributed on Twitter on February 9, 2015. Cantlie indicated that this is the last video in the series, referring to the “From Inside…” series, in which he gave tours of Kobani and Mosul in previous episodes. During his reporting and promotion of the IS, a drone flies overhead and a market is attacked. Through Cantlie, the IS alleges that U.S. drones identify targets and the Syrian regime launches airstrikes on them. Cantlie remarked: “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.”
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 urged Muslims in France to carry out lone-wolf strikes and kill the enemy, and added that Muslims living in the West number in the millions and “they are capable of inflicting mass carnage”.
Following is a transcript of the video:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Al-Hayat Media Center
Hello, I'm John Cantlie. In the last film in this series, we're in a city that has been at the heart of the fighting since Summer 2012. It used to be home to more than two million people and housed some of the most ancient architecture in all of the Middle East. But now, after two years of bitter fighting, much of the city lies in ruins and many of the people have fled.
This is a civilian area that has been bombed flat by two years of war. The area because famous for indiscriminate bombing by the Assad air force, which has now been joined by American jets dropping bombs overhead and has left huge sections of this town and surround area smashed to rubble.
Today, we're inside Halab and what we're going to find out is if all this bombs, all this fighting, and all this destruction has even slowed down the advance of the Islamic State.
From Inside Halab [Aleppo]
The advance and stretch of the Islamic State is in fact remarkable and breathtaking. Driving into Halab, one can truly appreciate first-hand the large swathes of territory liberated and in control of the mujahideen. Agriculture is a key driver here in Halab. Tilled land stretches as far as the eye can see, soon to feed not just the people of Halab but also its thriving economy. Grain silos are packed to the rafters with wheat reserves, which are then bagged and delivered at bottom-low prices. Livestock leisurely graze on the lush, green grass - a beautiful beginning to a delicious end in Halab's vibrant and colorful markets. Most impressive though are all the minarets that rise high, announcing the call to prayer alongside the masjids that stand in full glory. But what really matters is what goes on inside. So let's go and take a look.
Now, one of the common accusations of the West is that under the Islamic State, education will suffer. Religious studies and changes to the curriculum don't quite fit the image of progressive schooling. 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.
Now floating around in the skies above us is a drone. I don't know if you can just see it up there above my right shoulder, but there were drones in Mosul and now there are drones flying overhead in al-Bab, just northeast of Halab. But life continues. The mujahideen really don't care how many eyes in the sky are looking down on them. At some point that drone will be taking photographs, dropping bombs, or firing missiles.
We're in the middle here of the market, which is a completely civilian area, and there has just been a large bomb strike on that building behind me. We heard the explosion when we were just five minutes over that way...
The fire brigade, the Islamic State fire brigade is here trying to clear up the mess, but it's absolute pandemonium. 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. 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. Look around. It's smashed there. It's smashed there. The people are absolutely terrified from bombs being dropped by Assad's aircraft, but with American drones flying overhead.
Ok, we've been told we gotta get out of this area, because that drone is in the sky and they might hit this area again. So we've gotta get out of here. Everyone has been told to clear the streets and we gotta go. Come on, let's go.
Despite all this destruction, Halab remains a place of serenity and surreal beauty. The mujahideen are not fazed by the bombings at all and continue to collect classes on the banks of the Euphrates River, or maybe a little fishing, or just enjoying a relaxing cup of tea back in town. And despite the bombings we just saw, people are still getting on with it. They continue to build new dwellings out of this gorgeous white stone that Halab is so famous for. It is used extensively here in single villa homes to big city apartment buildings.
And all over Halab's countryside and inside its town, which are under the control of the Islamic State, the standard of the Caliphate flutters high. It is the Shariah law that rules here. So let us explore this law further inside a Shariah Court of the Islamic State.
[Cantlie inside Shariah Court]
Of course, if you have the Islamic State, you have Shariah law. It is one of the absolute principles of why they fight, and it is a very different rule of law to that which went before. 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. The rules of Shariah are remarkably simple. For 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.
This is waiting room where normal civilians wait to see a Shariah Court judge, and like any other waiting room, like any other law court in the world, they're playing TV in the background. 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.
We're on the outskirts of the town of Akhtardin in Halab's northeastern province. This is where the Islamic State starts and runs all the way over to Mosul in Iraq. It is a complex situation. The mujahideen have been gathering here in anticipation of the fight ahead, and there's more U.S. airstrikes overhead. So let's go and talk to the mujahideen are find out what's been going on.
Cantlie: There's been an increase in the number of U.S. airstrikes over Islamic State territory. How do these strikes affect the mujahideen?
Fighter: The Crusader alliance and disbelieving West have not understood the nature of this religion nor the nature of its people who defend it. If this religion was dependent upon people, it would have died when Muhammad (sallallahu'alayhi wa sallam [Allah's peace and blessings be upon him]) passed away or when the rightly-guided Khilafa [Caliphs] passed away. And history is full of many examples for this. Our contemporary history also proves this. Shaykh Abu Mus'ab az-Zarqawi was killed, yet the fighting did not stop. And after him, Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi and Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir, yet the fighting did not stop, rather it became more severe and expanded. All praise is due to Allah. They did not carry on this path except for this goal, to get killed for Allah's cause. Let the disbelieving West know that the death of the leaders of jihad only emboldens and motivates us upon this path, by Allah's permission. The historical examples of this are many. Every time one of our leaders is killed, tens rather hundreds succeed him and replace him as leaders upon this path. This is the religion of Allah ('azza wa jall [Glorified and Exalted]). It is no affected by the death of any person.
Meanwhile, back in Europe, David Cameron of Britain, his Christmas speech talked of Christian values." On Christmas Day, thousands in our armed forces will be protecting peoples and entire communities from the threat of terrorism," he said. But, as we saw as with the attack on the market here, with U.S. drones flying overhead and very possibly coordinating the bomb attack on the market itself, it's the West who are acting aggressively. The people of Halab just want to get on with their lives in peace, and that is more possible now since the Islamic State took over.
The media points the Islamic State has setup in Halab and all around the other towns where they hand out media and news information. The idea is here is that it counters the news that comes out from the West and so it gives the people here on the ground an idea of what the Islamic State is really doing and not the distorted view the people get from the Western media.
Of course, what made all the headlines in the Western media recently were the attacks carried out in France. So it is only fitting to close with a few words from a French mujahid living here in Halab.
[Cantlie interviews French fighter]
Firstly, may blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah. In the Name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Beneficent. These three attacks only made us happy. And every time we hear about one or more brothers defending their religion in the West, we only feel delighted. We learned a few days ago about these attacks and this is what delighted us. And we heard about other brothers who did the same and carried out attacks. Before this attack it was Mohammed Merah - we ask Allah to accept him - who carried out an exception operation and emboldened all my brothers in France, all my brothers in the West, to defend their religion. Presently, Allah has not facilitated for you hijra [immigration] to our State. No problem. Defend your religion where you are. Kill them with knives. At the very least, strike them in the face. For the religion of Allah needs you more than you think. You are sitting on your couches, while today Muslims are being slaughtered in every corner of the world. What will be your excuse before Allah? What is your excuse when this orphan loses her family, and you did not get up to defend her? So I call you to either come here or defend your religion where you are.
To all my brothers in France, I say to them: start carrying our individual attacks. Be wolves on the earth, for each man amongst you can be equivalent to an entire army. And I say to all the nations of the West that have resolved to attack us, we have also come to strike you, and we are already there to attack you.
To 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.