Exclusive Analysis: Inside the Islamic State’s Propaganda Videos

In the first of a series of exclusive collaborations, the UK-based counter-extremism think tank, Quilliam and U.S.-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), are releasing a ground-breaking analysis of one of Islamic State’s (IS) most important propaganda videos, Although the Unbelievers Dislike It.

At first sight, the video, in which twenty-two Syrian Arab Army hostages are simultaneously beheaded and the head of Abdul Rahman (aka Peter Kassig) is displayed at the feet of “Jihadi John”, is seamlessly and professionally produced. However, an exhaustive analysis of the video, which was broken down frame-by-frame by TRAC and Quilliam analysts, has revealed a number of important inconsistencies which, in isolation, are intriguing enough but when considered as a whole, illuminate much about IS’ propaganda machine.

A summary of the most important features include:

  1. The video’s producers go to great lengths to conceal three of the executioners from view. By dismantling the video into individual frames, Quilliam and TRAC have obtained screenshots of each of these three men and identified the most likely reasons for their presence.
  2. Through TRAC’s extensive jihadist propaganda archives, some of the executioners have been tentatively identified.
  3. TRAC consulted three face and neck surgeons who examined photos of Mr. Kassig’s head. The inconsistencies here, laid out in full in the report, are profoundly important and render apparent the fact that the production of the video did not happen as IS had planned it.
  4. TRAC and Quilliam’s use of expert forensic digital analysis confirms that IS used a range of expensive post-production software and equipment which has been specifically identified. This gives a good indication as to the structure of the IS propaganda machine, which is detailed in the report.

Chapters that are included in this full report are:

This content is being made available for all to see for three (3) weeks, after which the full report will be made available to TRAC subscribers only. An abridged version will also be available on the Quilliam website. To see this report in its entirety, please contact Hylda Fenton or the media division at The Quilliam Foundation.

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