Comment on ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’ by Younes et al (Guardian, 18 December, 2014)

Comment on ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’ by Younes et al (Guardian, 18 December, 2014) by Dr. Richard Marsden

On Thursday, December 18, 2014, The Guardian published ‘The race to save Peter Kassig‘ by Ali Younes, Shiv Malik, Spencer Ackerman and Mustafa Khalili. To refresh memories here is the preface to the story:

The American aid worker was killed by his Isis captors on 16 November. Here, for the first time, is the story of an extraordinary effort to secure his release, which involved a radical New York lawyer, the US government, and the world’s most revered jihadi scholar.

Listen to The Guardian team tell of the daring and extraordinary effort to secure Kassig’s release.

The radical New York lawyer in question is Stanley Cohen, ‘one of America’s most controversial lawyers’. In January he begins an 18-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to a charge from the US Internal Revenue Service. The Guardian article tells a gripping tale of how Cohen put together a team of Islamic scholars and al-Qaeda fellow-travellers to negotiate the release of Peter Kassig from Islamic State’s captivity—only to be thwarted at the last minute by an ill-timed intervention by Jordan’s secret service.

Clearly it’s an important story deserving of a wide readership. How curious then that The Guardian first broke the story just before Christmas, when readers are busy with other things, and that since then corporate news media in the United States have ignored it. On Twitter it’s another matter. Cohen is lauded as a hero for selflessly attempting a rescue mission while the authorities did nothing and his prison cell beckoned. There is talk of a film deal. The Pardon Stanley Cohen movement has more of a spring in its step.

All well and good, then.

And yet, to my ears, ‘The race to rescue Peter Kassig’ does not ring true. Lest it be sanctified by Hollywood without the bother of critical evaluation, I want to register some questions and comments so that we might better understand the fate of Peter Kassig. I fear that Guardian readers, the article’s authors, and even Stanley Cohen, have been taken advantage of by altogether more diabolical forces.

1. Let’s start at the beginning: Where is the evidence that Peter Kassig was ever held captive by ‘Islamic State’ or that they decapitated him? This is so widely assumed that the question is seldom asked. It should be. Questioning assumptions should be a starting point for investigative journalists. If he is to be ‘rescued’ we ought to ask, From whom and where?

Surely the 15 minute video ‘Although the disbelievers dislike it’ is all the evidence we need, even if few have seen it? I do not think so. I’ve studied it carefully and can find evidence only of the Tarantino-like film making skills of whoever created this little masterpiece of deception. (See ISIS Lessons in Terror Marketing: How to Change the World by Deception). No one is decapitated in that video; not anyone of those Syrian servicemen; not Peter Kassig. It’s all camera angles, special effects and clever editing.

What about Kassig’s severed head at the feet of ‘Jihadi John’ in the final segment of that video? It certainly looks like a severed head and it resembles Kassig’s and this is proof of what exactly? The props department of most major theatre and opera companies can produce a severed head on demand, even of a specific individual. Here the Royal Shakespeare Company shows how it is done. Props departments have their counterparts in film; they’re called digital artists. Look carefully: ‘Kassig’s head’ is a digitally inserted prop. It’s not proof of Kassig’s death. It’s proof that someone is attempting to deceive us.

Questions such as these are not asked because ‘we are passive consumers of the pornography of violence’ (Will Self, The Guardian, 2014-12-23). Effectively, public opinion defers to the testimony of ‘Jihadi John’. So when he says ‘This is Peter Edward Kassig, a US citizen of your country’ it surely must be true. From this shaky assumption Ali Younes, Shiv Malik, Spencer Ackerman and Mustafa Khalili set forth on their investigation.

2. Strictly speaking, the byline of ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’ should be ‘Stanley Cohen as told to Younes et al’ for the entire account is based on what Cohen told them he recalled, felt and did. The article reads like an extract from a novel, in which Cohen is the protagonist and Younes et al attempt to breath some life into the character by seeing the world through his eyes. For example, Cohen ‘had other things on his mind’; ‘as he returned from court’; ‘To Cohen, it seemed like fate’; ‘Cohen saw something of himself.’ And so on. The entire article is written like this.

Investigative journalism surely calls for more critical distance from those it investigates. This is especially important since three of the central players in this drama are anonymous and we have no way of checking their account: the FBI official (‘Mike’), the federal prosecutor and an ex-Guantanamo, ‘Kuwaiti member of al-Qaida’ (‘Food’). Essentially, Cohen speaks for them and the coauthors document what he says. The article’s rhetorical style leaves readers no room to make up their own minds about what happened.

3. Even fictional narratives must be plausible; this article stretches plausibility to its limit.

(a) Readers are asked to believe that the United States, with its vast intelligence and diplomatic resources, has no one capable of negotiating with Islamic State for the release of one of its citizens—apart from this maverick Jewish soon-to-be imprisoned lawyer. If so, what’s the point of those ‘diplomats’ in that vast US ‘embassy’ in Baghdad?

(b) How plausible is it that Cohen was given a free hand to negotiate with Islamic State? Let’s look at what he so nearly did with it. According to the article, he concluded that the only way to achieve Kassig’s release was to bring about rapprochement between Turki al-Binali and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi; or, put another way, to bring about reconciliation between ISIS and al-Qaeda. No kidding. And this would be a good thing? The life of this one American would be worth this exorbitant price would it? Apparently so. The US intelligence and diplomat community, it would seem, was indifferent to this prospect, which, but for the bungling interference of Jordan’s secret service in arresting al-Maqdisi, would have come about.

(c) How likely is it that Jordan’s secret service would act contrary to the wishes of their American counterparts, especially on a mission of such vital importance?

(d) Why would anyone reasonably expect ‘Islamic State’ to be so magnanimous as to free Kassig just so it could have the pleasure of dedicating his release ‘to Muslim political prisoners around the world, including those in Guantánamo’, as Cohen suggested? What is there in ‘Jihadi John’s’ demeanour that suggests this? Yet this prospect, apparently, was enough for Islamic State to agree that Kassig would not be harmed ‘while Cohen was still engaged on the ground.’

(e) The ‘tentative proposal for Kassig’s unilateral release’ was put together by Cohen with the help of three anonymous characters—the FBI official (‘Mike’), the federal prosecutor and an ex-Guantanamo, ‘Kuwaiti member of al-Qaida’ (‘Food’). Why would they want to conceal their involvement in this noble but tragic rescue mission, when others with more to lose are named?

(f) Turki al-Binali is an elusive character. Just 30-years old, but ‘Isis’s chief scholar’ ‘who has his own English language Facebook page’ and ‘the only person who could stay Jihadi John’s knife with a single edict.’ (‘Jihadi John’, then, is in charge.) Just as ‘Jihadi John’ is a man whose face we have not seen and whose voice is not authenticated, Turki al-Binali is encountered more in the virtual realm than in the flesh. No one actually sees him during these negotiations nor is there any mention of where he is physically located. It’s all done via WhatsApp.

(g) Why would the venerable Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, newly released from 5 years in a Jordanian prison, want to jeopardize his freedom by messaging with al-Binali, Islamic State’s ‘scholar-in-arms’, over such a harebrained scheme and then have his private conversations published in a national newspaper for the whole world to gawp at? Incredibly, he takes the word of Cohen, who he has just met, and his anonymous FBI handler (‘Mike’).

(h) In fact, it’s not clear why al-Maqdisi, ‘who may be the world’s most revered living jihadi scholar’, would agree to meet with Cohen in the first place, let alone immediately invite this stranger into his home. ‘The flat was tidy: on the floor were children’s toys and, on the walls, framed religious quotations.’ This is as close as we come to an explanation:

When Cohen told Mike about his travel plans, the FBI official was surprised. “He said ‘Maqdisi is going to meet with you?’” Cohen recalled. “I said ‘Yeah, he’s waiting for me.’ He said ‘Go’.”

As easy as that then. Could the following help explain this instant cordiality? In an article published in the Arab Daily News, October 28, 2014, one of the authors of ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’, Ali Younes, writes of an interview he conducted with the said Abu Mohamad al-Maqdisi. (There they are together in two photographs, friendly as anything). Younes reveals that he had spoken with al-Maqdisi ‘on several occasions in the past few weeks’. This is the very period that Cohen claims to have been communicating with al-Maqdisi. It surely wasn’t the case that one of the authors of ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’ was a party to these negotiations? We would have been told. Wouldn’t we?

(i) According to ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’ al-Maqdisi and al-Binali tried to reach an agreement on the release of Kassig, not by meeting face-to-face, speaking on the phone or even by writing letters, but via WhatsApp (‘one of Isis’s favoured modes of communication’).

By now it was evening, and for the next two hours or so, Maqdisi and Binali messaged each other on WhatsApp. Their exchange was “very warm,” Cohen says. Maqdisi jokingly called Binali “my ungrateful son” and Binali messaged back and said, “Abu Muhammad [Maqdisi] is my father. All these other sheikhs [in Isis] are my uncles.” Binali was eager to show off: he prefaced some of his messages by saying there was a drone overhead or there had just been an air strike, to impress Maqdisi. He also sent his former teacher a picture of himself wearing an ammunition vest and holding a Qur’an.

Quite touching. These are Cohen’s recollections, mind, not al-Maqdisi’s or al-Binali’s.

Maqdisi told Cohen that he’d had an additional WhatsApp discussion with Binali. They made progress towards a personal rapprochement and had even started to resolve their religious differences. Tomorrow, Maqdisi said, he planned on specifically broaching the subject of Kassig with him.

I cannot even imagine the bookish al-Maqdisi using WhatsApp. Is this really how Jihadi scholars do business these days? They are so trusting. Neither could know for sure who he was messaging with. Having ‘made progress towards a personal rapprochement’ they were to ‘resolve their religious differences’—by WhatsApp. This is how the reconciliation between Islamic State and al-Qaeda was to be achieved? This is how the fate of this young man was to be decided? This is the very best the United States could do to rescue him?

Incidentally, where was al-Binali during these exchanges? This isn’t mentioned in the article. Did Cohen or anyone on his team see him or know where he was? Other than by his appearances on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, how would the skeptical know that the elusive al-Binali actually exists?

For these and other reasons I am not at all persuaded by ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’. I do, however, have a more plausible explanation of the events depicted in the article. As I have argued at length elsewhere, the suite of Islamic State beheading videos (of Foley, Sotloff, Henning and Haines, along with ‘Although the disbelievers dislike it’) are works of military deception (MILDEC) aimed primarily at Western public opinion. No one dies in those videos. Their immediate objective was to facilitate Anglo-American military reengagement in Iraq (unthinkable only a few months ago) by goading an emotional reaction among Brits and Americans. Mission accomplished. Their broader objective is to disguise the real forces behind Islamic State and their motives. Things are not as they seem. I do not know for sure who is behind these particular Islamic State beheading videos, other than that it is not ‘Islamic State’, but if a faction within US/UK intelligence did not create them they surely know who did.

To return to the fate of Peter Kassig and the ‘race’ to save him.

Whenever an American hostage meets an untimely demise the US feels obliged to tell us of the heroic efforts they made to save him or her, only to be foiled by circumstances beyond their control. It happens every time. For simulated hostages there are simulated rescue attempts. The day after the release of the Foley beheading video, for example, ‘senior Obama administration officials’ told of an unsuccessful secret operation to rescue Foley and several other Americans held captive in Syria. The Syrian government said it never happened. ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’ tells of the diplomatic equivalent of these heroically unsuccessful military rescue missions. Even if some or all of the participants were sincere, it was a simulated rescue that was designed to fail. Jordanian and American intelligence are like heart and lung on these matters. They work in unison. If Maqdisi was arrested just as the deal was about to be sealed it’s because the US wanted it.

No actual diplomats would fall for this pantomime, but an amateur one facing prison might. No seasoned journalists would fall for it either; they would raise questions such as the above. So what happened to these Guardianistas? The accompanying audio (by Phoebe Greenward) tells us that the ‘race’ began with ‘a series of emails obtained by the Guardian.‘ ‘Obtained’ suggests some active investigation. A more accurate word I suggest is ‘fed’ (given to Shiv Malik). By whom? And why to a British rather than an American newspaper? Mustafa Khalili’s first response when he read them—’disbelief’—was correct. But these journalists were so intoxicated by the romance of what they read that their investigation lapsed into fleshing out a narrative on the bare bones of those emails, the whole lot marinated in sentiment. The name for this is ‘creative nonfiction’, not investigative journalism.

The correct answer to ‘What happened to Peter Kassig?’ is ‘We don’t know’. This is a more honest position than seeing beheadings where there are none and taking ‘Jihadi John’s’ word as gospel. To answer the question, researching how ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’ came to be would be a good start.

December 24, 2014

Dr. Richard Marsden

richard@athabascau.ca

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Athabasca University

Alberta, Canada T9S 3A3

 

The Stephen Sotloff and Jihadi John Morality Play: A comment on ‘A Second Message to America’

Preamble

This post examines ‘A Second Message to America’ from, we are told, Islamic State. The video features the testimony and apparent death by beheading of Steven Joel Sotloff, a citizen of both the United States and Israel, who plied his trade as a journalist most recently in Syria where he was captured a little over a year ago.

The video is said to have been discovered on September 2, 2014. By whom? I will address at the end of this post.

Like its predecessor, ‘A Second Message to America’ begins with a clip of President Obama. In this case, it’s his 20 August press conference in which the he responds to the beheading of Foley, another American citizen. Obama tells the world that America looks after its own citizens. Harm any one of them, and America will avenge them. In more diplomatic terms, ’We act against ISIL, standing alongside others’. The remainder of the video essentially mocks Obama’s words.

It’s worth mentioning that President Obama looks noticeably less upbeat than in his appearance in A Message to America, i.e., before he knew of these videos. He is tie-less. He looks down at his notes, not side-to-side at his teleprompter as is usual.

Act One: In which Sotloff mocks Obama

Act One features Sotloff himself. Outfitted in orange Guantanamo-like attire, he is knelt on desert terrain, hands behind his back as if tied. To his left is the man in black, his would-be executioner, who we have come to know as ‘Jihadi John’. His knife glistens in the sun, full of menace.

Sotloff looks square into the camera and does not flinch. For all the notice he takes of him, the man in black might as well not be there.

Sotloff speaks thus:

I am Steven Joel Sotloff. I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now and why I am appearing before you. And now this is the time for my message: Obama, your foreign policy of intervention in Iraq was supposed to be the preservation of American lives and interests, so why is it that I am paying the price of your interference with my life? Am I not an American citizen? We’ve spent billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars and we’ve lost thousands of our troops in our previous fighting against the Islamic State, so what are the people’s interests in reigniting war?

From what little I know about foreign policy, I remember a time when you could not win an election without promising to bring our troops back from Iraq and Afghanistan and to close down Guantanamo. Here you are now, Obama, nearing the end of your term, and having achieved none of the above and deceivingly marching us the American people into the blazing fire.

Some preliminaries.

Sotloff seems in good shape considering he’s been a prisoner of the sadistic Islamic State for just over a year. His face reveals no signs of stress or trauma. He looks well-fed. His teeth look clean and well cared for. He doesn’t look nor does he sound like a man about to be  beheaded. There are people living on the streets of most cities who look a lot worse than this after just one night of sleeping rough.

Note how his tunic ripples in the breeze, very much as Foley’s did, from exactly the same direction, although this is supposed to be a different location. That same wind, then as now, is there to persuade us that these figures are outside and not in a studio and that the depthless panorama behind them is not an image superimposed on a green screen. It doesn’t persuade me. As with Foley, this stiff breeze does not trouble the shrubs dotted around this tableau. Curiously, at several points in the video, Sotloff’s body casts no shadow, while that of his executioner does.

Sotloff speaks deliberately and with feeling. There is something in his tone of voice when he says, ‘I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now’ that strikes me as odd. It is accusatory. ‘Exactly’ is a word we would use when addressing someone who feigns ignorance of some misdemeanour. As in ‘don’t pretend you don’t know who I am. You know exactly who I am’. Presumably, this accusatory tone of voice is aimed at Obama, the man he blames for his death.

Sotloff speaks as if these are his words. He sounds as if he believes in what he is saying. This is surprising, for they are patently dishonest words and as a journalist working in the Middle East  he must know this.

He is not ‘paying the price with his life’ for Obama’s ‘interference’ in Iraq. If there is any price to be paid it is for Sotloff’s foolishness in choosing to go to the hellhole that is Syria, journalist or no. He must have known that as a Jew and an Israeli citizen he was taking a big risk. Obama cannot be blamed for his predicament.

As for ‘We’ve spent billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars and we’ve lost thousands of our troops in our previous fighting against the Islamic State’ this is not true. Thousands of American troops died fighting the Iraqi resistance to the invasion and occupation—ordinary men and women doing what anyone would do when a foreign power invades their country.   There was no ‘Islamic State’ until a few months ago. Sotloff’s  words are a means of giving the Islamic State a pedigree that it does not have. Claims made elsewhere that it is the successor to ‘al-Qaeda in Iraq’ led by the infamous al-Zarqawi are true only in the sense that all have the same characteristics of a deception operation. Neither actually existed except as deceptions. I will show how in a later post.

What do Sotloff’s words on his plight hope to achieve?

First, to weaken Obama by making him seem ineffectual. In the opening clip, Obama tells the world that America looks after its own citizens. Sotloff essentially says ‘You promised to look after Americans and aren’t I an American citizen?’ (yes, and an Israel citizen as well so what about having a go at Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu). It’s a foolish, dishonest argument.

Second, to shift responsibility for his immanent death away from the man with the knife at his side and towards the distant Obama’s ‘interference’ with Islamic State. ‘When you avenge the deaths of Americans you make things worse, so stop doing it.’ This heaps guilt on Obama with the intention of weakening him.

Sotloff’s, patently dishonest, argument relates to his complete emotional detachment from his executioner. All his emotions are directed at his audience, especially Obama, on the other side of the camera lens. It’s as if he really believes that Obama is killing him. In other words, Sotloff is acting.

One might argue that these words were written for him to speak under duress. Since he is about to die, however, what has he got to lose by refusing, and why does he have to speak them with such authenticity? It’s an odd and dishonourable way for a journalist to depart this world.

Act Two: In which ‘Jihadi John’ is ‘Back’

I’m back Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State, because of your insistence on continuing your bombings and [unclear] on Mosul Dam, despite our serious warnings. You Obama, through your actions, have yet again killed another American citizen. So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.

‘I’m back’! is something a character in a horror movie might say. And a horror movie is exactly what this is. He’s like Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, or Heath Ledger as the Joker, but, unlike them, JJ lacks irony, an awareness of his own ridiculousness. With this humourless attitude he wouldn’t last long in South London, if that’s where he’s from, however shiny his knife. In this series of morality plays, he plays Death, in this case to Sotloff’s Innocence. He’s a modern day Mephistopheles of the Faust legend, trapped in his own hell, collecting the souls of the damned. What he isn’t is himself.

He can be accused of many things, but not of bad manners. He complains of America’s ‘arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State.’ For its critics, especially in the Middle East, it’s not ‘policy’ that’s objectionable; it’s what America actually does that’s beyond the pale. ‘Policy’ is a euphemism for death and destruction, but this character is too polite to say so. He may (or may not) decapitate people, but he doesn’t want to offend anyone. This is aimed at America and American politicians speak in euphemisms so JJ does too. In Act Five he says ‘we take this opportunity’ as if he were attending one of the Queen’s garden parties.

With lines like these, it’s no wonder he’s angry. As he accuses Obama of this, that and the other, he punctuates his words with knife jabs in the direction of the camera operators. If he carries on like this he’s going to have someone’s eye out.

We can usually understand what angry people say because the emotion expels the words cleanly. But Mr. Prickly Bear here slurs his words. He sounds like Darth Vader with a cold. If he’s got A Second Message to America he should speak clearly so we know what it is. But this is not the Dark One’s real voice. He wears a mask, in part, to disguise this deceit. It’s a dubbed voice and there is a trade-off between clarity and scariness. In some places they got that balance wrong.

He is so angry it is almost as if the real Obama was there in person. But he’s waving this knife at the camera operators and—who knows—costume, make-up and catering. Since he’s not angry at them and Obama isn’t there, we must conclude that he’s acting.

Act Three: In which Sotloff simulates his own Death

So this is it. The time has come. Having bad-mouthed his President, Sotloff is at peace with himself and awaits his fate with no complaint. For the man about to decapitate him, Sotloff has no words at all, not even glances. But why should he? It’s not the man with the knife who is to blame. That’s right, it’s Obama’s ‘interventions’.

Death moves behind the passive Innocence, seizes his chin in his right hand and makes the now familiar cutting motions with the knife in his left. Sotloff’s eyes are closed. His mouth responds slightly to the presence of the hand on his chin and then the knife on his throat. His body leans, or is drawn, back a little.  As his torso reclines darkness descends, but if we look carefully and quickly we can just make out that Sotloff’s left knee moves up off the ground and then his right. He is about to fall over and if that head is going to come off the Dark One is going to have to get his pristine clothes dirty and wrestle Sotloff on the ground like a cow hand with a loose steer. It’s a sight I find difficult to imagine. The Islamic State does not secure their victims before beheading them? It just assumes they’ll stay there like well-trained Labradors, that they’re not going to make a run for it? How very unprofessional.

I have two observations here. First, as with Foley there is no blood and, especially in that part of the human body, if there is no blood there has been no cutting and if there was no cutting there was no pain. There was certainly no sign on Sotloff’s face that he was in the process of being decapitated. Compare with actual, real-life beheadings, all too common and available on the Internet. Second, Sotloff’s clumsy and unconvincing knee-jerk was a response to critics who spotted Foley’s lack of response to the knife. The people producing these videos are professionals. They note criticisms of their productions and make the necessary changes. Sotloff is acting, but not very well.

Act Four: In which we view the evidence of Sotloff’s death

The camera pans left to right revealing human legs and torso. That ever constant wind blows with the same rhythm and from the same direction to ripple the prostrate tunic. Continuity. Sure enough, on its back is a severed head looking very much like that of Sotloff. Before we can inspect that which it is severed from, his neck and shoulders, the considerate director fades to black and we are spared this agony. But we have already seen enough.

What more proof do we need that the poor man’s dead? Well his body for one thing, and not just an image of it. Murder investigations normally require the production of an actual dead body, for otherwise we cannot be sure that a crime has been committed. Corpus delicti. Not in these cases apparently, but, then, there have been no investigations either. We’re prepared to take Islamic State’s word for it.

This is an age of simulation in which just about anything can be faked, even authenticity. The props department of most major theatre and opera companies can produce a severed head on demand, even of a specific individual. Here the Royal Shakespeare Company shows how it is done. Props departments have their counterparts in film, they’re called digital artists. We see their work in most movies these days. With digital technology, they can produce a realistic looking image of a severed head too.

For these reasons, I am unmoved by these images of torsos and severed heads. If these were common murders, here at home, the police would want a body and they would set their digital forensics people to work on these videos to deconstruct how and where they were created. Instead we are expected to suspend our disbelief as if this were just a movie.

Act Five: In which David Haines is introduced

Death holds David Cawthorne Haines by the scruff of his neck and speaks thus:

We take this opportunity to warn those governments that enter this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone.

Now this man looks like a prisoner. He is grim faced and haggard. He looks like he could do with a good meal and a shower. The backcloth is slightly different but that same wind blows.

The Emotional Dynamics of ‘A Second Message to America’

This video is a vehicle of emotional marketing. The brand being marketed is War With Islamic State. As with all emotional marketing, the video attempts to stimulate certain emotions among its target market, in this case it’s the United States. Sotloff’s bitter words against Obama attempt to stir feelings of compassion among Americans for their doomed fellow citizen and to isolate Obama by heaping guilt on his doorstep for failing to protect him. These feelings are compounded by anger at seeing Sotloff’s severed head and the cruel act of beheading. America’s righteous (and fearsome) anger maneuvres Obama towards putting ‘boots on the ground’ to destroy Islamic State. It’s digital goading. The overall effect is to say one thing and stimulate emotions that will lead to its opposite. It says both ‘don’t interfere’ and ‘interfere with a vengeance’. It’s clever, dishonest and effective.

 Where and how was this ‘message to America’ delivered?

Finally, any serious forensic examination would want to know where and how this video was acquired. One might assume that the billion dollar US intelligence community earned its keep by spotting this. But we’d be disappointed. It didn’t. Just as well then that Search for Terrorist Entities or SITE was on the ball. SITE apparently discovered this and the video featuring John Cantlie in some Jihadi chat room. Perhaps all of these videos were discovered in this way.

In fact, just about every dubious looking video and audio tape related to terrorism aquired over the ten years that I’ve been researching this has been discovered by either SITE or IntelCentre—never by the US military and intelligence apparatus. Both are highly secretive organizations with apparent Zionist credentials. They exist in the shadow of the Pentagon and the White House but at arm’s length from both. They maintain just enough distance from the political and military wings to sustain plausible deniability.

The only forensic examination (in 2007) of one of these videos (one discovered by IntelCentre) that I’m aware of found evidence that suggests that the same organization that discovered the video had a hand in creating it in the first place. [See Kim Zetter, Researcher Analysis of al Qaeda Images Reveals Surprises. Wired. 08.02.07.]

All videos of this nature should be forensically examined by an impartial and qualified person and the results made public.

As for the credibility of SITE, this is best researched on your own.