IS beheads US journalist
According to a Syrian official, James Foley was, in fact, beheaded last year and that the recent video is was digitally altered.Screenshot of the IS video taken from SITE Intelligence

As the James Foley beheading story goes through twists and turns with each passing day, a surprising theory has come forward, with some Syrian officials saying that the US journalist was in fact killed last year -- an event that further endorses the ongoing conspiracy theory that the entire footage could have been staged and digitally altered.

The US scribe – whose death has brought about a general sense of consternation among American citizens against the growing Jihadist organization – was killed a year ago after first being sold by the US-backed Free Syrian Army to his killers, newspapers have reported citing a Syrian official.

Bouthaina Shabaan, President Bashar al-Assad's official spokesperson has reportedly said that the Islamic State was an 'extension' of the Free Syrian Army, the rebel group with Western backing, which lead the Syrian uprising against Assad three years ago.

She said that the United Nations had 'information' that the US photojournalist was beheaded last year.

"ISIS is only an extension of what was happen right from the first day in Syria," Shabaan said according to The Daily Mail.

"James Foley was first arrested by the Free Syrian Army and he was sold to ISIS. You can check with the UN," she said adding: "James Foley was killed a year ago, not now, they (Islamic State) only released the pictures now, but he was killed a year ago. We have definite information, the UN has the information."

The claim comes as online speculations are rife that the gruesome video of the murder of the American hostage was a sham. Experts and video specialists who have analysed the clip are also of the opinion that the video clip could have been digitally changed by using camera trickery and polished production techniques.

Although there is no dispute that the man was indeed killed, the actual beheading was never shown in the video. Analysts have raised doubts on why the militants would choose to censor the video. In many gruesome beheading videos that terrorist groups have released, they have not shied away from showing graphic contents of brutality.

Foley's video, instead, fades to black as the knifeman apparently slices the blade across the hostage's throat, then fades in again with the bloody image of the decapitated body.