A group of Ukrainian hackers called CyberBerkut claims to have obtained proof that the ISIS beheading videos were staged and that US Senator John McCain was well aware of this fact.
Furthermore, the hacktivists maintain they uncovered tangible evidence of this conspiracy on an electronic device belonging to one of McCain’s staffers during his visit to Ukraine last month. On July 10, CyberBerkut posted the video on their website accompanied by the following statement:
“We CyberBerkut received at our disposal a file whose value cannot be overstated! Dear Senator McCain! We recommend that in your next foreign travels, and especially on the territory of Ukraine, not to take confidential documents. In one of the devices of your colleagues, we found a lot of interesting things. Something we decided to post: this video should become the property of the international community!”
The CyberBerkut hackers clearly state that they broke into the laptop of a member of the American delegation and, after discovering the video, they decided to show it to the world.
The evidence they present is in the form of a video showing a Jihadi beheading taking place inside a film studio and using professional equipment. The stage is arranged in such a way as to resemble the desert scenery seen in most ISIS execution videos.
A green screen is visible in the back, suggesting the video would be later edited to look genuine. Lights and a film crew surround the stage on which an actor dressed as an executioner of the Islamic State holds a knife to his “prisoner’s” throat. The victim is wearing a head cover and acts like he is suffering.
Since August 2014, IS terrorists have been regularly releasing gruesome execution videos. However, many are skeptical towards the authenticity of said videos, mainly because of the unnaturally calm reactions the victims exhibit. They claim that, in the face of impending death, people would have a very hard time remaining calm.
These serious allegations have equally serious implications. If the U.S. is behind the rise of ISIS, we truly live in a world of disinformation and manipulation.
Metabunk’s Mick West writes:
“The video appears to be an attempt to replicate one of the ‘Jihadi John’ beheading videos of 2014. In particular it appears to be an attempt to replicate the video of James Foley. None of those videos show actual beheadings, and instead show Jihadi John sawing at the neck with no apparent blood, and they cut to a shot of a decapitated head posed on top of a body. This led to speculation that the videos were faked.”
On his official Twitter account, McCain responded “Another nutty conspiracy theory from the #Russian Internet trolls – I’m very proud to be target of America’s enemies.”
The pro-Moscow hackers’ motivation might be difficult to discern and accusations could easily flow in their direction. But the video was leaked nevertheless and paints an uncomfortable picture: someone is staging the videos that horrified an entire world.
This subject is as controversial as it is painful, and unfortunately, it is also a reality.