James Foley beheading: Police 'could have narrowed hunt for killer to very small group of people'

 

investigations editor

Scotland Yard has joined the international manhunt for the killers of James Foley, after issuing a statement warning people could be prosecuted for simply viewing the graphic video of his death.

Police announced their involvement as outrage grew over footage capturing the last minutes of the American journalist murdered by Isis, in which his killer appears to speak in a London accent. Some experts have suggested the executioner’s accent also has mild North African intonations.

Counter-terrorism officers at Scotland Yard announced they were joining Western intelligence agencies in the investigation, and warned the public that downloading or disseminating the material could be viewed as a criminal offence.

The video posted online by Isis, who are now calling themselves Islamic State, shows Mr Foley in a jumpsuit kneeling beside a man dressed in black.

The footage starts with a speech by President Barack Obama announcing the American military would begin targeted airstrikes against Isis if it failed to halt its advance on Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The video switches to a black screen with white writing that reads: “A Message to America.” Before his death, Mr Foley was forced to recite a message, presumably written for him by his captors, about his “real killer” – the United States.

 

Intelligence agencies were last night running the video through databases with voice-recognition software to see if it matched anyone on record.

Professor Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, said he thought the security services may already know the man’s identity.

Video: Isis warning to the West

He said: “I’d be very surprised if they haven’t already narrowed it down to a small group of people.

“The video provides enough clues to show who is responsible. MI6 probably do have a rough idea already of where the hostages are. The intelligence agencies probably have it narrowed down to two or three people.”

Dr Afzal Ashraf, an expert in terrorist ideology, said the video was part of a propaganda war.

He said: “This is part of a recruitment drive to radicalise Western Muslims, but it won’t be successful. When terrorists carry out acts like this, it always triggers a backlash. I would go as far as to say the acts in this video have signed the death warrant for the head of Isis.”

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police was criticised after claiming anyone “viewing” the video could be prosecuted.

Legal expert David Allen Green tweeted: “Dear @metpoliceuk, viewing a video by itself not a ‘terror offence’. Anti-terrorism is not helped by misstating the law in alarmist ways.”

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments