The apparent beheading video of US journalist James Foley by ISIS was most likely staged according to forensic analysts and other experts, however whatever was filmed still seems to have taken place in Syria.
Those who viewed the shocking video with a critical eye were quick to point out that there was no blood, despite the motions of a beheading. These aren’t accusations analogous to the baseless Boston Bombing conspiracies that say there’s no blood when there clearly was blood, or the wrong colour blood, or the wrong amount of blood – in this case there literally was NO blood during the beheading, and real experts have pointed this out.
“After enhancements, the knife can be seen to be drawn across the upper neck at least six times, with no blood evidence to the point the picture fades to black,” a forensic analyst told The Times.
But why would a terrorist group stage a beheading, or heavily edit it? Especially if the aim is to shock and punish the audience?
An international forensic science company who work with the British police reportedly studied the 5 minute clip, calling it “camera trickery” because of cuts to the video (suggesting post-production) and one expert “commissioned to examine the footage” says “I think it has been staged. My feeling is that the execution may have happened after the camera was stopped.”
Interestingly the company commissioned wish to remain anonymous and echo that “no one is disputing that at some point an execution occurred,” albeit off camera.
It is this point that’s most interesting. On one hand you have experts analysing the available evidence and concluding that the video is fake. However with no evidence whatsoever they’re more than ready to claim that Foley was still beheaded by Isis. By all accounts he did go missing in Syria, and it wouldn’t be the first murder of a journalist by an Islamic extremist, however if we accept the video is fake then there is a clear lack of evidence to be able to conclude what actually did happen to Foley. And let’s state for the record his family believe it to be him, regardless of any fakery.
These experts are most likely just trying not to rock the boat, which is entirely understandable.
Now of course on the flip-side of this there are those ready to declare that the video was a false flag, staged by the CIA or some aspect of western black ops, that Foley is an operative and so forth.
At this stage that is just as baseless as assuming the opposite. There is nothing solid either way.
We don’t really know what happened to James Foley, other than he at least appears to have been beheaded at some point by someone.
If we do explore the idea that it was staged by the West for some kind of propaganda purpose then we can assume it wasn’t filmed in Syria. It would be a dangerous waste of time to do so. It would be in some kind of enclosed area (film set), perhaps with flags forming the backdrop, or at least an area that resembles Syria or some typical terrorist trope. However the video in question is out in the open and one analyst believes he has pinpointed the exact location in Syria.
Eliot Higgins the independent photo/video analyst who hit headlines when he exposed the locations of Syrian arms trafficking just by using services like Google Maps, says he used a similar process to locate the likely area that the video was filmed on his BellingCat.com website.
In the video there’s not a great deal of information, however, it is possible to determine some information from the images … It appears to be a hilly area, with barely any plants or grass, and in the distance we can see a green plain below the hills …
Eventually he comes to the conclusion that the location is in the Hills of Raqqa, Syria.
This doesn’t really give us any insight as to when it was filmed, but it does suggest that forces with access to that area were the ones behind the video, be that ISIS (whoever ISIS might truly be), operatives or whoever.
In one bizarre twist to the tale the extremists in the video are all believed to be British (albeit Muslim), one a wealthy rapper with ties to the notorious Anjem Choudary.
This itself however could be another layer of propaganda.
Ultimately the verdict is still out. Using this video as some kind of justification for intervention in the region is just as foolish as using it as an example of a false flag.
We’re being played, but by whom and for what purpose is not yet clear.