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ISIS: Stalled On The Battlefield But Evolving Online

A newly-released video from ISIS features the group's British hostage John Cantlie acting as a spokesperson for the group.

ISIS: Stalled On The Battlefield But Evolving Online
ISIS via The Washington Post

Like clockwork, ISIS released video of beheadings. Four Western hostages, one after the other, every two weeks or so. Then, all of a sudden, they stopped.  

“Hello, I'm John Cantlie. And today we're in the city of Kobani."

Instead, this latest ISIS propaganda film features British hostage John Cantlie. He could be speaking under duress, but walks through the video almost like a war correspondent. This is actually the sixth video Cantlie has appeared in, though this one stands out as far more elaborate. The camerawork is much more sophisticated. (Video via ISIS / The Washington Post)  

And note what at least looks like aerial drone footage at the beginning, as well as higher quality graphics. 

Past videos, for example, simply showed him sitting at a desk. (Video via ISIS / TRAC)

And, what he's talking about is different too. This video targets Western media, arguing their coverage is slanted. Keep in mind Cantlie is a British photographer and journalist who was taken hostage in 2012. Using a Western journalist to call Western journalism inaccurate? That gets your attention.

Not unlike this Grand Theft Auto-style video recently put out by the group, suggesting they “do the things you do in games, in real life on the battlefield.” (Video via ISIS / صحيفة حصر الإلكترونية)

Contrast that with the low-tech videos Al-Qaeda used to release. (Video via Al-Qaeda / YouTube / realtruth0)

The Clarion Project credits the group’s success in recruiting young, vulnerable Westerners to a certain “coolness” that comes across in its videos. “If current trends persist, al-Qaeda will become known as 'your father’s terrorist group,' an organization that has gone out of style.”

And that’s why The Washington Post says to expect videos like the latest to continue.If a video can be the 'real-life evocation' of a video-game fantasy, it may draw more recruits than scripture or religious fanaticism.”

In an attempt to counter the ISIS propaganda, the U.S. State Department has released its own video showing ISIS militants attacking other Muslims. (Video via U.S. State Department