The clip depicting American James Foley's beheading at the hands of an ISIS jihadi may have been staged, according to forensic video analysts commissioned by the UK Times. The experts don't dispute that Foley was murdered, however, and believe his death may have occurred after the camera stopped rolling.
The company, which requested anonymity, has worked for several UK police forces. Citing "slick post-production techniques," it detailed several discrepancies in the violent clip, including a lack of blood. "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," the analysts told the Times (the article is behind a paywall).
The sound Foley makes during the apparent beheading—after the video fades to black—was also inconsistent with what would be expected, according to the analysts, and a "blip" in the footage indicates Foley may have had to repeat a line.
"I think it has been staged," one expert told the Times. "My feeling is that the execution may have happened after the camera was stopped."
This week, James Foley's family released a letter the journalist wrote while in captivity. The note was seized by Foley's captors, according to the family, but a fellow prisoner memorized it before his release.
In it, he details happy memories with family and friends, and describes how he passed time in captivity:
I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all, especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.
Eighteen of us have been held together in one cell, which has helped me. We have had each other to have endless long conversations about movies, trivia, sports. We have played games made up of scraps found in our cell . . . We have found ways to play checkers, chess and Risk . . . and have had tournaments of competition, spending some days preparing strategies for the next day's game or lecture. The games and teaching each other have helped the time pass. They have been a huge help. We repeat stories and laugh to break the tension.
[Image via AP]