A video that apparently shows another gruesome murder of an American journalist was released on Tuesday. While the video comes as just another provocation to the Obama administration, much concern has been laid on how the footage was similar to the one where James Foley was beheaded on 19 August – something that has been analyzed to see if the video was authentic after all or if any hints could be gathered about the location where the gruesome murder took place.
Here are four ways in which the two footages bore striking similarities:
1. The Location of Beheading
Sotloff's video appears to have been filmed in a desert-like surrounding, quite reminiscent of the landscape seen in the Foley video.
Days after Foley's execution video appeared online, Eliot Higgins of the website 'Belling
Cat', claimed that the video appeared to have been filmed in a hilly area on a plateau-like deserted spot located in the city of Raqqa, which has been under IS stronghold for more than a year.
The landscape in both the videos appears similar except that there are no hills visible in the Sotloff video. Higgins claimed in a tweet earlier that both videos could have been filmed in the same region.
— Brown Moses (@Brown_Moses) September 2, 2014
2. Timing of the Execution
Although analysts have not been able to say exactly when both the videos were filmed, both the execution took place shortly after a major development in the area, which occurred to the dismay of the jihadist militants.
While the first journalist was beheaded shortly after Obama ordered the airstrikes against the militants in Iraq, the English-accented jihadist in the second video makes references to recent US bombings in Iraq, including in Amerli and the Mosul Dam – incidences that took place last Sunday. This indicated that the video may have been made in the past two days.
The masked jihadist says that he was taking the action because of Obama's "insistence on continuing your bombings and in Amerli, Zumar and the Mosul Dam, despite our serious warnings."
Sotloff's hair and beard appear to have grown since he was initially showed in the Foley video, indicating that the video may have been shot at a later date after executing Foley.
3. The Execution Itself
Much like what was shown in Foley's footage, Sotloff appears to be kneeling, next to his killer wearing the same orange jumpsuit. The killer's outfit is also exactly the same, and holds a hand knife in both videos. Both the victims were seen wearing small mics on their lapels.
The masked killer speaks with the same British accent and sounds very similar to Foley's British killer identified as 'Jihadi John'. "I am back, Obama," the killer states on the opening remark. That could have perhaps intended to make viewers feel it is the same killer.
In both the videos, hostages make speeches saying Obama and his foreign policy is responsible for what happened to them. The speeches are a presumably pre-written and prepared by their abductors.
Exactly like Foley's footage, Sotloff's video begins to show his beheading and then fades away before fading in again with the picture of the decapitated body.
4. Video Technology and Edits
The structure and the techniques used in the video editing are very similar in both the footages. They begin with a clip of Obama making a statement on his foreign policy and his actions against IS. The clip with which the Sotloff video starts is taken from Obama's speech he made on 20 August, in which he says Washington will be "vigilant and we will be relentless" against the militants, The Guardian notes.
In both the videos Arabic subtitles are used throughout, while fonts that appear in titles are also similar. Just like Sotloff was shown in the end of Foley's video, a British hostage is shown in the latest video. The killer says he would be the next to be murdered.