The video in which American journalist James Foley appeared to be beheaded by the terrorist organization ISIS was quickly taken down by YouTube because of its violent content, but some people managed to see it before it was taken down or elsewhere on the Internet to form their own opinions about the authenticity of the video.
The video begins with a clip of President Obama telling the nation why airstrikes were needed in Iraq. The professionally edited video, complete with scene and transition effects and two different camera angles, cuts to a man, presumably James Foley, wearing an orange jumpsuit and kneeling next to a man wearing black military-style clothing. The men are in the desert, and James Foley appears to have his hands restrained behind his back. He also has a microphone clipped onto his shirt.
Foley’s name appears in the video in English and Arabic while he speaks. It sounds as though he is reading a script written for him. Foley is stoic and is unflinching, seeming to even straighten his head up and expose his neck. Foley’s captor speaks afterward and brandishes a silver knife while speaking to the camera. The captor sounds as though he has a British accent.
The next scene cuts in, and the captor walks toward James Foley from behind. James does not appear to have much emotion up until or at this point. The militant grabs James by the head and pulls him back and appears to begin the beheading process, and the camera fades to black. The next scene is a still picture of a body, seemingly James Foley’s body, with his head resting on the back of the body.
The end of the video features another man identified as American journalist Steven Sotloff. A militant warns that he will be the next to be killed, and his fate rests in Obama’s hands.
According to the Associated Press, two U.S. officials claimed that the beheading victim in the video is James Foley, and one U.S. official claimed that the video is authentic. All officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the murder.
However, some Reddit users point out some disturbing features in the video that caused them to doubt the video’s authenticity. One Reddit user, tacoram, felt that the video seemed strange overall and wanted others’ opinions on the video.
Reddit user digitom responded with a graphic description of the beheading:
“The knife slices back and forth 7 times before the fade out. No blood. No spraying. It’s also extremely odd they fade to black. Why the hell would they do that? After hitting the carotid artery blood should have been spraying for a good couple of heart pumps. Can’t really prove it either way. Still very strange.”
Redditor Ribtickler98 agreed that the video was disturbing in more ways than one.
“I’m keeping an open mind but it really seems against what terrorist beheading videos usually are. I feel like they always want to show you the actually [sic] beheading rather than cut away from it…Also, this seems a little over produced and the fact that the ending frame of the video is a picture of this guy, rahter than a video does not sit right with me. I don’t know, all of reddit is now in bloodthirst war mode and I think it’s a little too convenient. America is out for blood. I’m going to keep an eye on this situation.”
However, other Reddit users suggested reasons for the way James Foley seemed to react calmly and without much emotion.
Teslak gave insight to why James Foley may have appeared unemotional at the time of his death.
“He’s been captive since 2012 and has probably been through a number of mock executions, repetitions of this one with varying messages being ‘recorded’. Only this time it was for real. At this point his will to fight have effectively been broken, there’s only so much torture you can endure (even with special training) before you break. A man is just a man, after all.”
Redditor CB_the_cuttlefish believed that James did show some emotion and the look on his face was “wretched” before he was killed. This user gave another reason for the actual beheading edited out of the final video product.
“I don’t know why they faded to black when his head actually came off. Although I have seen them blur out gory parts of dead bodies in the propaganda videos they make. They probably want people to focus more on the speech than the gore. They are probably aware that a lot of people who hate what ISIS stands for only watch the videos because they like gore and death. I think it is real. I don’t think they could logically pull of a hoax of that magnitude.”
While many hope that the video is indeed fake and that the journalist could be alive, James Foley’s family, friends, and colleagues are in deep mourning in the belief that he has lost his life.
[Image via AP/Steven Senne]