Militants use British killer as propaganda

London - Islamic militants are using a beheading video to send a chilling message - not just through the gruesome act, but also by the choice of messenger.

The black-clad fighter who appears to kill journalist James Foley speaks with an English accent, underscoring the insurgents' increasing use of Western militants to mobilise recruits, terrify opponents and project the image of a global force.

He is the latest in a string of international jihadis - Britons, Australians, Chechens, Chinese and Indonesians - to appear in propaganda for the Islamic State group.

"They like to suggest they have a presence around the world much stronger than it is," said Charlie Cooper, a researcher at the Quilliam Foundation, a British counter-extremism think tank. "It does suggest that people all over the world are going off to fight in the tens of thousands."

US officials have confirmed the grisly video is authentic - an act of revenge for US air strikes in northern Iraq.

In Britain, the investigation focuses on the masked attacker. British Prime Minister David Cameron said the man had not yet been identified, but "from what we have seen it looks increasingly likely that is a British citizen"

Multicultural London English

Linguists described the man's accent as "multicultural London English," spoken by many young, inner-city residents from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

"He sounds to me like a native speaker ... or a non-native who has spent a lot of time in London," said Dominic Watt, a forensic linguist at the University of York. Jane Setter, a professor of phonetics at the University of Reading, said the man was likely educated in the UK or in a UK-based system.

"They clearly wanted to use a fluent English speaker to ensure the clip was widely used in the US media," said Peter Neumann, the director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London. "An American would have been ideal, but there still aren't many American fighters in the conflict, and it may have been difficult to find one in the place where the hostage was held."

Syria's civil war, in its fourth year, has attracted thousands of foreign fighters from around the world. Several hundred people from Britain have travelled to Syria, according to official estimates, and some may have crossed into Iraq as Islamic State militants advanced.

France and Germany have estimated a combined 1 300 of their citizens have joined the fight.

Shiraz Maher, another expert at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, said the video is evidence that British jihadis are "some of the most vicious and vociferous fighters" in Syria and Iraq.

"We have seen British fighters out there operating as suicide bombers; we have seen them operating as executioners," Maher told BBC radio.


Extremists have increasingly used their international components for propaganda purposes.

In June, the Islamic State released a video showing British and Australian militants exhorting compatriots to join them in violent jihad. Last month, an al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria released a video of an American carrying out a suicide attack.

An Islamic State fighter from Australia posted a picture on Twitter showing his 7-year-old son holding the severed head of a Syrian soldier - an image US Secretary of State John Kerry called "one of the most disturbing, stomach-turning, grotesque photographs ever displayed".

One of the group's most prominent commanders, appearing frequently in online videos, is Omar al-Shishani, a red-bearded ethnic Chechen.

Nigel Inkster, a terrorism expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the videos reflect an increasingly sophisticated media strategy designed to energise recruits and give the West a message "of fear and a perception of inevitability".

He said showcasing large numbers of foreign - and particularly Western - fighters is intended to tell potential recruits that the Islamic State is "a successful movement, ... and if you want to be a jihadi you have to be part of it."

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Gaynon Els 2014/08/21 12:31:29 AM
May the Lord in all his glory be upon the earth and cleanse and heal the that is my prayer, but my fellow man whats prophesized in the Bible is the culling of all mankind which is found wanted.
Mally Gee 2014/08/21 04:29:47 AM
These Islamic terrorists are a scourge to the world. The sooner they are stopped the better.
Alan Yates 2014/08/21 05:18:13 AM
All these terrorists have one thing in common. They are Muslims. They behead non Muslims because that is what their Koran commands them to do. What western Mosques did these western Jihadis attend? Which Muslim clerics taught them to act out their hate? Close down those temples of hate and outlaw the ideology, Islam, that breeds these evil butchers of non Muslims and Muslims of sects they see as not Koranic enough. Enough is enough. Islam has poisoned Humankind for 1400 years and must be stopped from its way of destruction. The more news of the crimes of Muslims: HAMAS/BOKO/FATAH/SHABAAB/SUDAN/CHINA/INDONESIA/CAR/MALI/THAILAND/ISIS/aFGHANISTAN/LONDON/IRAN/EGYPT...etc. etc. Daily atrocoties while they shout "Allahu Akbar"... The more one cannot but see that Islam is the problem, not "radical" or any other Islam, just Islam. Where are the Street Protests by Muslim crowds and leftist hangers on in the west over this Islamic crime against Humanity? They can riot against Jews who don't want to end up ruled by BOKO-HAMAS/FATAH/IS. But never against true evil of BOKO-HAMAS/FATAH/IS ... All with religious Muslim gloss to their crimes.
Warren Wepener 2014/08/21 05:19:33 AM
They are lying babarics and should be destroyed this problem is getting worse by the day all over the world Middle East, Africa all in the name of what???
James Kiwalabye 2014/08/21 05:48:07 AM
The problem,Christians are chickens
rorypreddy 2014/08/21 06:57:46 AM
If you support hamas you support ISIS
Tjak 2014/08/21 07:50:38 AM
Cowards! Evil, evil cowards who pick on the weak and the lonely. They obviously worship a demon and are trying killing and torturing people created in God's image. Disgusting!
Mthokozisi Mtywaku 2014/08/21 07:55:29 AM
The silence of Muslim scholars and other leaders of the faith is so loud on such matters. Islam is such a beautiful religion but the fundamentalists are putting a blot of blood on it.
Jacqui Daane Van Rensburg 2014/08/21 10:02:56 AM
In The Hague, Holland, ISIS supporters are protesting against Israel and keeping others from disagreeing with them. None of them work, all live on social security and all want Holland to become an Islamic state. The Dutch, known for their tolerance, are now starting to reap the results of years of allowing these people to dictate and demand and get away with it. Where will it end?.
Martin Pienaar 2014/08/21 11:23:22 AM
I Do not see the Cape Town Muslims in their hundreds in the streets.... Maybe I should go have my eyes tested!