Leaked Video Shows Making of Islamic State “Execution” in Studio — via CyberBerkut Hack of Sen. McCain Staffer islamic–state–studio.
CyberBerkut (Google Translation):
We CyberBerkut received at the disposal of the file whose value can not be overstated!
Dear Senator McCain! We recommend you next time in foreign travel, and especially on the territory of Ukraine, not to take confidential documents.
On one of the devices of your colleagues, we found a lot of interesting things. Something we decided to put: this video should become the property of the international community!
The 3 ½ minute silent video appears to show infamous Islamic State executioner Jihadi John (aka Mohammed Emwazi) in front of a giant green screen, standing beside a kneeling hostage wearing an orange jumpsuit and a green screen hood. They are inside a lit studio with a production crew and can be seen rehearsing an “execution”. The desert scene of the set, complete with wind machine, are similar to that shown in the beheading videos of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, and Alan Henning.
Here is an example someone put together showing the similarities between the leaked studio video and the Foley beheading video. This is not implying the person in the leaked video is Foley, it may be anyone. Though they are not identical, it gives a good comparison:
British forensic experts concluded that the James Foley video was likely staged using “camera trickery and slick post-production techniques.”
Terrorism research expert Veryan Khan said the video of Japanese hostages Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa looks like it was completed in an indoor studio with a false backdrop, pointing to the light source on the men that appears to be coming from two different directions — as opposed to one bright sun.
Hollywood horror film director Mary Lambert said of the Islamic State video showing the killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach, that “in the opening shot all the figures might be animated. They never had more than six men on the beach … The close-ups of jihadists on the beach are most likely green screen … The sea turning red is obviously FX.”
LeakSource cannot confirm the video’s authenticity. If it’s a hoax, it’s a pretty elaborate and expensive one. Is it legit? If so, was it done by an Islamic State production crew (unlikely with a female PA on set) , or someone else (ie. intelligence agency). And why was it found on a device of Senator John McCain’s staffer?
A 2010 Washington Post article authored by former Army Intelligence Officer Jeff Stein features a detailed account of how the CIA admittedly filmed a fake Bin Laden video during the run up to the 2003 Iraq war.
The article, which includes comments from multiple sources within the CIA’s Iraq Operations Group, explains how the agency had planned to “flood Iraq with the videos” depicting several controversial scenarios.
“The agency actually did make a video purporting to show Osama bin Laden and his cronies sitting around a campfire swigging bottles of liquor and savoring their conquests with boys, one of the former CIA officers recalled, chuckling at the memory,” the article states. “The actors were drawn from ‘some of us darker-skinned employees.’”
Other CIA officials admitted to planning several fake videos featuring former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, one of which would depict the leader engaged in sexual acts with a teenage boy.
“It would look like it was taken by a hidden camera,” said one of the former officials. “Very grainy, like it was a secret videotaping of a sex session.”
Another idea was to interrupt Iraqi television programming with a fake special news bulletin. An actor playing Hussein would announce that he was stepping down in favor of his (much-reviled) son Uday.
“I’m sure you will throw your support behind His Excellency Uday,” the fake Hussein would intone.
According to one official, the video ideas were eventually scrapped due to the CIA officers, who spent their careers in Latin America and East Asia, not understanding “the cultural nuances of the region.”
The former officials told Stein that the project was taken over by the military after it ground to a halt:
The reality, the former officials said, was that the agency really didn’t have enough money and expertise to carry out the projects.
“The military took them over,” said one. “They had assets in psy-war down at Ft. Bragg,” at the army’s special warfare center.
This latest revelation bolsters evidence that the intelligence agencies, and perhaps more significantly, the military have been engaged in creating fake Bin Laden videos in the past.
As we have exhaustively documented, Intelcenter, the U.S. monitoring group that routinely releases Bin Laden video and audio, much of which have been proven to be either rehashed old footage or outright fakes, is an offshoot of IDEFENSE, a web security company that monitors intelligence from the middle east.
IDEFENSE is heavily populated by long serving ex military intelligence officials, such as senior military psy-op intelligence officer Jim Melnick, who served 16 years in the US army and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in psychological operations. Melnick has also worked directly for former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Intelcenter notoriously released the “laughing hijackers” tape and claimed it was an Al-Qaeda video, despite the fact that the footage was obtained by a “security agency” at a 2000 Bin Laden speech.
IntelCenter was also caught adding its logo to a tape at the same time as Al-Qaeda’s so-called media arm As-Sahab added its logo, proving the two organizations were one and the same.
Could the CIA group of “dark skinned actors” have been behind the infamous December 2001 “Fat nosed” Bin Laden video, that was magically found in a house in Jalalabad after anti-Taliban forces moved in?
The tape featured a fat Osama laughing and joking about how he’d carried out 9/11. The video was also mistranslated in order to manipulate viewer opinion and featured “Bin Laden” praising two of the hijackers, only he got their names wrong. This Osama also used the wrong hand to write with and wore gold rings, a practice totally in opposition to the Muslim faith.
Despite the fact that the man in the video looks nothing like Bin Laden, the CIA stood by it and declared it to be the official “9/11 confession video”.
The latest revelations also shed light on another past Bin Laden release – a tape in which he ludicrously declared himself in league with Saddam Hussein in the weeks before the invasion of Iraq.
The notion that the CIA project was taken over and drastically improved by the Pentagon at some point after 2003 jives with the improvement in quality of Bin Laden videos in later years. Most notably the video that was released immediately ahead of the 2004 election, and it’s digitally manipulated duplicate from 2007, in which Bin Laden appeared to have a dyed beard.
John McCain’s last visit to Ukraine was June 19th, 2015. If this is when the hack occurred is unclear. He was also accompanied by Senators Tom Cotton and John Barrasso. They were welcomed by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, and met with senior Ukrainian officials, including President Petro Poroshenko, after visiting troops and volunteers working on the front line. Since McCain is referenced by CyberBerkut, it is most likely that one of his staffers was hacked and not the other senators. Someone needs to FOIA which staffers accompanied McCain on his trip and if any have lost their jobs unceremoniously.
*LeakSource has requested a comment directly from CyberBerkut to confirm the hack and provide more information. This post will be updated with their response when it becomes available along with any other details as they emerge.