David Haines beheading video: Clues could hint at timing and location of Isis footage

Video seems to have been taken at site near previous two, and appears to have been shot recently

Andrew Griffin
Monday 15 September 2014 08:39
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The Islamic State (Isis) has released a video puporting to show the beheading of the British hostage and aid worker David Haines. The video shows Mr Haines, who was captured by militants in Syria in 2013, wearing an orange jumpsuit and kneeling in the des
The Islamic State (Isis) has released a video puporting to show the beheading of the British hostage and aid worker David Haines. The video shows Mr Haines, who was captured by militants in Syria in 2013, wearing an orange jumpsuit and kneeling in the des

A video of the beheading of the British aid worker David Haines offers further clues to the location of his Isis killers, and references within the video seem to indicate that the video was shot recently.

The masked militant featured in the video, who appears to be the same man featured in previous videos and has become known as Jihadi John, makes reference to the recent bombing of the Haditha Dam in early September. While that would appear to prove that the video was made recently, the militant wears a mask throughout the video and it is possible that the audio was added later.

The film was released 10 days after the last one, which showed American journalist Steven Sotloff being killed. There was 15 days between the release of the first video, of James Foley, and the second one.

Haines speaks to camera at the beginning of the video, wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those worn by those killed in the previous two videos. He reads from a script denouncing David Cameron, before the militant gives a speech to the camera.

The film then cuts away before showing what seems to be the aid worker's body.

Elliot Higgins, a citizen journalist who runs the site Bellingcat, said after the first two videos that geographical clues indicated that they seemed to have been taken in the hills around Raqqa in Syria. The new video appears to take place in a different location, though Higgins said that it likely took place in a similar area.

The video bears marked similarities to those of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, released in recent weeks, and is equally graphic.

The beheading

As with previous videos, the hostage David Haines is forced to denounce his government to the camera while kneeling, before a more direct speech from the militant making demands of those he is addressing.

The militant then moves closer to the hostage, before the camera cuts away. None have shown the beheading taking place, which has led some to question if someone else is carrying out the act.

In each of the videos, the captive's body is then shown lying on the floor. The camera pans across the body before cutting away to make threats about the next hostage.

Editing

Like the other videos, the newly released clip begins with news footage, this time of David Cameron. The prime minister is shown discussing the government's decision to arm the Kurds against Isis.

The Foley and Sotloff films had used similar images of President Obama.

They are each edited together with brief moments of video static, and interlacing effects on the images that are similar to those used when videos are watched in TV shows and films.

That film had been edited to make Obama appear more haggard and weary in the second film.

All of the films are in English, with Arabic subtitles, and similar title cards.

Location

Each of the videos takes place on a desert hill, against a backdrop of blue sky. The Haines video has none of the more identifiable features in its backdrop, though the ground looks much the same.

Message

While the first two videos had explicitly address Obama and his policies, this one turns to Cameron, criticising him for “playing the role of the obedient lapdog”.

The video begins with a card calling the video “A Message To The Allies Of America”, closely mirroring the titles of previous films and in keeping with the videos' function as tools of propaganda and recruitment.

The militant shown — who speaks like the one featured in the previous videos and wears an identical outfit — blames David Cameron's support of bombing campaigns for the killing.

Threat

The Haines video closes with the militant showing another British hostage, Alan Henning. Unlike other videos, the militant makes no direct threat on Henning's life and does not mention his name, but holds Henning's neck while saying that Cameron will have the blood of his people on his hands if he continues fighting Isis.

Haines himself had appeared at the end of the video of the murder of Steven Sotloff, who had himself appeared in the James Foley one.

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