Guest Post: Shawn Helton
21st Century Wire
In the latest highly produced video released by ISIS media arm Al Hayat Media Center, we see a very stylized event, complete with professional editing, positional audio and carefully planned multi-cam shots, producing shocking images that evoke an emotional response, rather than a rational one…
The new ISIS propaganda video entitled “Signed With Blood: To The Nation Of The Cross,” depicts 21 Coptic Christian Egyptians being ‘beheaded’ in unison at the hands of masked Sunni militants – but is that what really happened?
Let’s a take a closer look at this latest film production…
IMAGE: ‘Choreographed Death’ – An apparent mass beheading by ISIS militants, as promoted by Rita Katz from SITE Intelligence Group. (Photo link twitter.com)
Examining the ‘ISIS’ executions in Libya
The most recent Al Hayat Media Center production as publicized by SITE, starts with a ‘low level’ camera angle for maximum suspense, stylized with slick ‘glitch and distortion’ editing, as apparent ISIS members slowly march Egyptian captives into the frame by the edge of the sea. Prior to the main title credits appearing, a drone type sound is meshed in with a crack of lightning that reverberates slightly, signaling a dramatic change over into the next scene – thus setting the stage for yet another level of terror propaganda.
IMAGE: ‘Parading Terror’ – Black-clad ISIS members slowly march Egyptian captives on the shoreline. Notice the pristine outfits worn by both alleged ISIS members and captives in the purposefully ‘blurred edge’ picture frame. (Photo link newsweek.com)
After the main title credits fade out, a caption appears, alleging that the location is on the Coast of Wilayat Tarabulus by the Mediterranean Sea. As the location caption disappears, there is a wide ‘crane shot’ from a mounted platform above that looks to be 20 to 30 feet high. The wide-angle shot peers down on the Egyptian captives who are seen cloaked by ISIS members from behind. The captives are then situated on the beach before their ‘synchronized’ beheading, just as other low-level camera angles are revealed from the right and left of the picture plane.
Both the right and left low-level camera angles are shown in between another mounted platform shot that pans across the front of the captives. The multi-layered images play out like music video production, manipulating your perception of time through the magic of elliptical editing, as high-definition positional audio enhancement gives a 3D quality to the crashing waves and the drama that appears to be unfolding.
IMAGE: ‘Execution in HD?’ – Apparent Egyptian captives before allegedly being beheaded all at once with small combat knives. (Photo link gawker.com)
When the very next caption appears, a deeper narrative of the staged production is revealed, as it exposes a form of ‘iconoclastic propaganda’ prior to the mass beheading. The video caption message, divisive in its scope, (seen above) is an attempt to tap into the emotional response of the viewer, subliminally shutting down a forensic review of the event itself.
As the camera closes in on the scene, the black-clad ‘version’ of ISIS is seen wearing body armor over their loose fitted black robes, with a new terror ‘ringmaster’ leading the events who is in desert color fatigues and beige mask, similar to the clan of apparent ISIS members that abducted and allegedly burned Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh. The captives appear in Guantanamo Bay – style orange jumpsuits, as with all other ISIS execution videos.
IMAGE: ‘Terror Actor?’ A new unnamed presenter speaking to Western audiences. (Photo link twitter.com)
As the video progresses, more transitional elliptical-like editing appears, distorting the perception of the viewer for dramatic effect. Once the camera settles, the scene culminates with the substitute ‘terror host’ playing the role of former terror presenter “Jihadi John,” speaking to the camera and warning of future reprisals, while injecting the Bin Laden burial at sea story, something that Pentagon officials have yet to forensically prove – as the body of the former CIA asset has never been presented after his alleged death.
Another important aspect to make note of is that the ISIS production team opts for a more natural, less 3D sound during the speech by the new terror presenter before the ISIS executions begin. The sound is fuzzy and base heavy as the masked ISIS member speaks, while the high surf crashes into the shoreline, looking as though it could be projected backdrop.
Currently, there is an investigative analysis of the unnamed speaker’s voice and background under way, with a linguistics expert and another specialist revealing an American influence in his accent, as reported by the Daily Mail yesterday:
“Professor Erik Thomas, a linguistics expert at North Carolina State University, believes he ‘sounds like an American’ with some Arabic influence, based on some of word pronunciations.
Another U.S. specialist, who asked not to be named told ABC News that he may be a native Arabic speaker who learned English by spending ‘a significant amount of time’ in America.”
Authorities are trying to see if the speaker seen in the video was radicalized in the US. However, one should consider that the CIA has a history of training terror detainees to be double agents, having ‘lost touch’ with many of them after they left the once secret facility called Penny Lane which was located in the Guantanamo Bay prison area.
Other key aspects of note concerning the recent ISIS mass beheading video, is that the location could be almost anywhere that a large body of water meets land, as there is very little to prove that it was or wasn’t at the stated location in Libya. Additionally, another thing to consider is the massive difference in scale with every ISIS fighter appearing much larger than the dwarf-like Egyptians.
We should also take note of the calm almost hive-like mentality seen by the apparent Egyptian victims, as they seem to accept their fate without a struggle, with one captive seen ‘readjusting’ while kneeling to get comfortable prior to being beheaded.
The whole look and feel of video displays an ‘unreality’ of reality, using captions, heavily edited horror images and clever sound techniques – that can only be described as a psychic assault on the viewer.
In the final minutes of the video, the camera quickly cuts back and forth across the screen with a tight low-level camera angle and quick cut editing, appearing to show a mass beheading. However, much of the scene displays signs of flashy post-production mixing in natural less controlled sound with music and some positional audio layered together to make the scene appear authentic. We never actually witness a full sequence of a ‘beheading’ as the camera jolts away from one apparent death scene to the next – without any significant arterial blood spurting.
IMAGE: ‘Sea of Blood’ – Despite the lack of blood at the apparent crime scene in Libya, there was this closeup displaying a blood soaked tide near the end of the video. (Photo link twitter.com)
This video is second straight ISIS video that looks to have been been shot ‘mostly’ outside, with the first being the allegedly ‘burned’ Jordanian pilot just over two weeks ago. All ISIS propaganda videos appear to display at least some kind of green screen production, with some videos looking as though they were perhaps filmed in front of a painted backdrop.
The timeline of the purported beheading video and the details of the missing captives seemed to have been vaguely put together after the apparent execution.
IMAGE: ‘Truth or Deception’ – Alleged family members of the victims in Libya seen here in Cairo protesting over the captivity of their relatives in late January. (Photo link alarabiya.net)
Inventions of media & war
Western leadership is desperately trying to convince the world that there needs to be a willing ‘coalition’ against ISIS. The impetus to push for a ‘hot war’ is based primarily on a series of so-called execution videos and a recently killed American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who was stated as having died in a retaliatory airstrike in Syria. Despite the lack of credible forensic evidence observed in the heavily staged ISIS terror propaganda videos, many nations are becoming pawns in the US war complex – reality and commonsense is being circumvented by Western media outlets just as we saw in the lead up to invade Iraq in 2003.
The ‘digital terror’ is now in plain sight, as Western media outlets gleefully marvel at the efforts of ISIS, subjecting untold numbers everyday to an unprecedented amount of propaganda. Read the following excerpt from a news release on Yahoo News, that touts the ISIS brand like a Western corporation:
“IS runs all its communications through the official propaganda headquarters it launched in the spring of 2014, the Al-Hayat Media Center. This is where skilled, well-paid IS supporters work with high-tech equipment and the latest editing and design tools to produce recruitment films, propaganda materials like its glossy magazine Dabiq and its most famous product: gruesome torture videos.”
“IS shrewdly understands that to reach as wide an audience as possible, it needs to flood the zone with messages tailored to different demographic groups. It encourages its fighters to engage with potential recruits online and boasts a diverse contingent of spokespersons.”
In a recent 21WIRE report we noted the significance of Israel’s involvement in Syria once again:
“Last month Israel launched its sixth airstrike inside Syria in the last 18 months, which is described as a ‘targeted killing’ against Hezbollah, whom Tel Aviv maintains is backed by their sworn enemy Iran – which leader Benjamin Netanyahu claims, affords Israel the right to kill them at any time, or any place. Back in 2013, the Assad government in Damascus invited Lebanese Hezbollah militia into Syria to help eliminate terrorists in Syria, and now the uncomfortable reality is finally surfacing – that Israel has been picking off Syrian military and Hezbollah targets who are trying to fight-off ISIS, al Qaeda and al Nusra terrorists – which means that Israel is actually helping ISIS.”
According to a new UN report made public last week:
“The UN report identified what the Syrians label a crossing point of forces between Israel and ISIS, a point of concern brought before the UN Security Council.”
Most media outlets seem obsessed with the growth of ISIS – never all that concerned with who might be pulling the strings behind the curtain.