James Foley Beheading Video Has Play-Acting Portions – Video Experts Say
By Athena Yenko | August 22, 2014 3:09 PM EST
Video experts observed that the video showing the actual beheading of US journalist James Foley was so professionally produced and well-scripted, to the extent that portions of it appeared to be just being acted out.
REUTERS/Social Media Website v
A masked Islamic State militant holding a knife speaks next to man purported to be U.S. journalist James Foley at an unknown location in this still image from an undated video posted on a social media website. Islamic State insurgents released the video on August 19, 2014 purportedly showing the beheading of Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago, and images of another U.S. journalist whose life they said depended on U.S. action in Iraq. The video, titled "A Message to America," was released a day after Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that has overrun large parts of Iraq, threatened to attack Americans "in any place." U.S. officials said they were working to determine its authenticity.
Two video experts were one in observing that portions of the purported video were give-aways that the beheading video was intended primarily for propaganda purposes.
One security expert, who had credible experience of scrutinizing videos of beheading, noted a very strange thing about Foley's video - in the seconds before the executioner jab the knife into Foley's neck, there was no single sign that he was terrified.
"My experience of these things is when the knife gets close the knees buckle and you become like a rag doll, whereas this guy seemed to sit upright. It could be that that particular knife wasn't the one that killed him, that that was a play-acting thing," the expert told The Times.
After the part where the executioner was shown cutting Foley's head, the video fades.
The next part of the video already showed Foley's decapitated head while he was upturned back. His hands were handcuffed. But his right ankle already had bruises hinting that he had been kneeling on the ground longer than what was shown in the video. And most importantly, a different looking knife lies on the ground, next to Foley's corpse.
"The guy is obviously dead but it may be that particular scene was acted and that was why he is staying stiff," the security expert noted.
Joe Fields, of Breakthru Productions, a recording studio in London, on the other hand noted that the video was well-produced as both Foley and the masked man appeared to be speaking following well-scripted lines.
What was noticeable for Fields was the battery-powered microphone clipped to the front of Foley's robe. He said that the microphone looks like a professional one used in television studios so as the audio can be recorded without the need of editing or sound dubbing.
With all these elements present, it could be considered that the man masked in black, speaking with a British accent, was not the one who killed Foley. Rather, the man was just acting out the part.
In a separate report from The Guardian, linguistic experts had also offered their opinions of the masked man.
Prof Paul Kerswill, a linguistics expert at the University of York, described the man's accent as multicultural London English which is people from all kinds of backgrounds who mix in the East End, a new kind of cockney.
Dr Claire Hardaker, a linguistics experts at Lancaster University, said she was hearing a British accent, from the south, and probably from London, Kent or Essex.
Prof Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, at King's College London said that the man with the British accent was specifically chosen by the militants to create the utmost impact against the west.
"This is significant because it signifies a turn towards threatening the west. They are saying we're going to come after you if you bomb us," Neumann said.
To contact the editor, e-mail: