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Monday, August 25, 2014

The James Foley execution video was probably staged to enhance its propaganda value

Most responses to the video posted on line that depicts an IS executioner beheading journalist James Foley are complete outrage. However, a few responses question whether a genuine execution is taking place.


Many of these responses are from conspiracy theorists who often have limited credibility. A Google search for "Foley execution video a fake" will provide plenty of links to explore the range of opinions. Some posters go to quite a bit of trouble to try to establish their point. I have appended a You Tube posting that claims that the person allegedly beheaded in the video is not James Foley. He has audio of Foley and then of the alleged victim in the video and also comparison of the facial features of each. At the end the poster suggests that if you want to know who is in the video that one should ask the CIA.
 However, this video was claimed to have been posted by the Islamic State as a warning to America. The Islamic State has not denied responsibility for the video. If the CIA made the video surely IS would deny this.
 Even well-known journalist Eric Margolis has doubts about the video and titles his article on the video "Cautious outrage". Margolis begins: The alleged beheading of freelance journalist James Foley by the shadowy ISIS (or Islamic State) has sparked outrage and horror around the globe.I say “alleged” because we are not sure if the decapitation was real or faked. Margolis also suggests that perhaps the US is mounting this deceptive horrifying video to demonize IS: Was Foley’s head really cut off? Hard to tell. We have been fed so much fake government war propaganda in recent decades – from Kuwaiti babies thrown from incubators to Saddam’s hidden nukes – that we must be very cautious. Again, I must ask if this is so, why would IS not deny it as Saddam Hussein denied the incubator and nuclear weapons stories? The Islamic State has posted many other violent videos online showing executions and also a member holding up a severed head. IS seems to deliberately post shocking videos.
 My own conclusion is that at least parts of the video are staged. Certain aspects of the video suggest this. As one article puts it: 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. One expert who had viewed many videos of beheadings notes that in the seconds before the executioner uses the knife there is not a single sign that Foley is terrified as usually happens. Many observers note that the knife held by the executioner is quite small and is not the same knife that is on the ground next to Foley's corpse in the next scene in which his decapitated head is shown on the body. Other observers note that as the knife is drawn across Foley's neck no blood is to be seen but if the knife were really used blood should be seen gushing out.
  Prof. Peter Neumann, of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King's College in London claims that the executioner who has a British accent was specifically chosen to create the utmost impact in the west and said: "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." There are a number of interesting comments on this article that has a link to the video. One comment notes the quality of the production: I've never seen such perfect framing, flawless costumes, resolution, panning, cuts, white balance, or exposure from one of these savage videos. This was clearly shot from a tripod using a prosumer camera with some clever touch-ups in post production.  
Another comment suggests that there was no execution: No blood comes out when the beheading starts. You do not actually get to see the beheading. When the video returns, you see a headless mannequin with a tiny amount of blood. People with a badly cut finger lose more blood than that. If the video is partly staged or even a fake it is intended to portray the beheading of James Foley and as a warning to Americans. The result of course is not only to evoke horror but demands that IS be wiped off the face of the earth. Here are a couple of typical comments: Burn these ISIS scum into the ground. Send them to their virgins.These scums will die, let's make a raid every hour, don't let them sleep.  
 As Margolis points out, westerners have a particular aversion to beheadings but said virtually nothing about 19 beheadings in Saudi Arabia the same day Foley was allegedly beheaded. One beheading was for sorcery. He also notes that air warfare in the west is seen as clean. Killing people from the air using bombs, rockets, napalm, and cluster munitions is the American way of war. Slitting someone's throat, thrusting a bayonet through them, or cutting off their head is barbaric. It is not a question of being clean I should think. Air attacks particularly when there are no air defenses as in Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Libya has no cost in casualties a huge political advantage in a democracy.
 In my opinion the aims of IS propaganda and US and its allies propaganda are in alignment. IS wants to be seen as the prime opposition to the US which has joined in bombing the IS in Iraq and arming Kurds and Iraqi forces.The savage killing videos are designed to provoke the west and in particular the US to further involvement in a war against them in Iraq and Syria. This can only enhance their standing among jihadists globally. The US and its allies want to demonize the IS in order to justify more extensive intervention in Iraq and Syria. This is the same result that IS wants and explains why some think that the video must somehow be a CIA-linked production even though this goes against the fact that IS claims the video.
Margolis suggest IS is carrying out a plan similar to that of Al Qaeda: Could it be part of Osama bin Laden’s clearly expressed plan to drive the US out of the Mideast by luring it into a number of small wars, slowly bleeding the American colossus? So far, by invading Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and parts of Pakistan, the US may have stumbled right into Osama’s carefully laid trap.


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