“James Foley Was Killed A Year Ago, Not Now”

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‘James Foley was killed a year ago, not now, they [Islamic State] only released the pictures now, but he was killed a year ago. We have definite information, the UN has the information.’

Murdered American journalist James Foley was killed a year ago after first being sold by the US-backed Free Syrian Army to his killers, it was claimed today.

Bouthaina Shabaan, President Bashar al-Assad’s official spokesman, said that the Islamic State was an ‘extension’ of the Free Syrian Army, the rebel group which led the uprising against the tyrant three years ago. She said the United Nations had ‘information’ that the photojournalist was beheaded last year.

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‘James Foley was first arrested by the Free Syrian Army and he was sold to Isis. You can check with the UN.

‘James Foley was killed a year ago, not now, they [Islamic State] only released the pictures now, but he was killed a year ago. We have definite information, the UN has the information.’

The claim is likely to be dismissed by Western intelligence, as it comes from Assad’s regime, which is now hoping to end its pariah status by presenting itself as an ally in the fight against ISIS. In recent days the Damascus regime has been attempting to exploit the threat of ISIS as a way of ending its pariah status and the claim by Miss Shabaan is likely to be seen in this context by analysts.

Other known facts are at odds with the claim, including the testimony of Daniel Rye Ottosen, who was released in June and spent 13 months in captivity with Foley.

Additionally, French hostage Nicolas Henin, who was taken hostage in Syria in June 2013, said he spent seven months with Foley, while Foley’s family received emails up until last December suggesting their son was alive. Whether the Assad regime would know will also be the subject of analysis, but the regime retains a large-scale intelligence capacity thanks to years of secret police activity in the country.

The claim from Assad’s regime comes after UK officials said they are ‘very close’ to identifying the jihadist believed to carried out the beheading. Britain’s ambassador to Washington revealed that spies use a ‘vein matching’ technique in their bid to find the Briton.

However as doubts were cast by some experts on the role of the UK suspect, after experts claimed the video could in fact have been staged with the execution taking place after the filming stopped. It has been suggested the English-speaking Briton in the video may have been used for propaganda purposes and may not have been the actual killer.

An expert in visual forensics commissioned by The Times to look at the footage said he believed the footage was ‘staged’ while the actual execution ‘may have happened after the camera was stopped.’

While no one has disputed that Mr Foley was beheaded, questions have been raised over the role of the English-speaking suspect in the video.

Aymenn al-Tamimi, a fellow at the Middle East Forum think-tank, said ‘they show it’s an English-speaking guy because he is English-speaking for an English-speaking audience.’

He told The Times: ‘I think it sends a powerful message that it doesn’t matter where you are from, your allegiance is with the Islamic State and one day the Islamic State will encompass the entire world in terms of their thinking.’

 

 

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