The shocking footage released by Islamist militants purportedly showing the execution of American photojournalist James Foley may have been staged, it has emerged.
According to the UK Times, forensic experts have reportedly suggested the footage used camera ‘tricks’ to create the apparent death of Foley, with the reporter’s death most likely occurring off camera.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- James Foley recalled 'life and death' moment during capture in Libya
- Abbott sickened by journalist beheading
The Times reports an analysis claims the footage shows no “blood evidence”.
“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 reportedly told The Times.
According to the report, the other apparent suggestions the footage may have been altered include what seems to be a 'blip' in Foley's speech which 'could indicate the journalist had to repeat a line'.
One expert commissioned to examine the footage reportedly said: “I think it has been staged. My feeling is that the execution may have happened after the camera was stopped.”
The company did not reach a definitive answer, but did reportedly conclude that "at some point an execution occurred".
Foley was kidnapped in late 2012 in northern Syria by the jihadist group that now dubs itself the Islamic State and which released a video showing him being beheaded.
The footage ended any remaining hopes that the 40-year-old freelancer, who contributed to the GlobalPost, Agence France-Presse and other outlets, would be released alive after his ordeal.
But his parents said the death should serve as a challenge to others to match the courage and humanity Foley had shown reporting on the fate of beleaguered civilian populations in Libya and Syria.
"Jim stood for love and hope," his mother Diane told AFP.
"I want to celebrate a life of bearing witness," she said.
"So many people are suffering in the Middle East right now, and there are many hostages being held captive, so this is a mass for all of those who are hoping for peace, and also in Jim's memory."
Diane's husband John said: "We pray for the surviving hostages and in particular Steven Sotloff. We're just hopeful that something can be done to avoid Jim's end."
The couple were given a prolonged standing ovation by several hundred well-wishers after a healing mass for Foley, many clearly moved by their dignified response after the cruel end to a long ordeal.
"His brutal death might be an awakening for the world," his mother told AFP.
"The community of love needs to unite to protect these fearless journalists going out to these very dangerous places where we need to protect the people suffering in conflict.
Rapper named as executioner
British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 have identified the man suspected of the horrific beheading of American journalist James Foley, according to UK media reports.
The hooded man with an English accent is believed to be 23-year-old Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, known to fellow Islamic State militants as Jihadi John.
The Sunday Times newspaper said Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, from Maida Vale in West London, had become a crucial part of the investigation.
The paper attributed the information to “senior government sources.”
The former rapper left his family home in an affluent west London suburb last year to fight in the civil war in Syria.
- RAAF could join the US in air strikes: reports
- US hostage freed after being held in Syria for two years
He is the son of an Egyptian-born militant who is awaiting trial on terror charges in New York tied to the deadly 1998 bombings of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Bary recently tweeted a photo of himself holding up a severed head and was among three Brits identified as possibly being the masked killer known as “John”.
In June, The Sunday Times revealed a threat made by Bary on Twitter. “The lions are coming for you soon you filthy kuffs (infidels),” he wrote. “Beheadings in your own backyard soon.”
Bary, who went to Syria last year to fight in its bloody civil war, has a build, skin tone and accent all similar to those of “John,” according to The Telegraph.
He was reportedly radicalised by followers of firebrand Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary and walked out of his family’s plush West London home last year, saying he was “leaving everything for the sake of Allah.”
News break – August 25