ISIS Video Validity Questioned After Ransom Deadline Passes

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The 72-hour deadline for Japan to pay Islamic terror organization ISIS $200 million in exchange for two Japanese hostages has come and passed. The impending fate of the two men is unknown.

The video below was posted Tuesday on militant websites showing a masked man with a knife threatening to execute kneeling freelance journalist Kenji Goto and security contractor Haruna Yukawa, if Japan refused to pay their hefty ransom in time. This hostage situation comes in response to ISIS allegations that the Japanese government is financially supporting U.S.-led air strikes on ISIS installations in Syria and Iraq, even though they have vehemently denied these claims.

While the world waits to see what will happen to the two captives, some experts are questioning the validity of the video itself. Evidence suggests that the ISIS video may have been filmed indoors using a green screen. The video is said to have been filmed in the same location as videos showing American hostages James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Peter Kassig, and British captives David Haines and Alan Henning.

Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, told the Associated Press that the light source on the men in the latest videos appears to be coming from two different directions as opposed to one bright sun. If the video was made outdoors in natural light, the shadows behind them should be going in one direction. Instead, they converge. Khan goes on to say that “the hostages are visibly bothered by the bright light.”

So how do we explain the noticeable breeze in the video blowing around both hostages’ orange jumpsuits? According to Khan it’s the result of a fan:

Wind in the desert would be noisy and affect the sound quality of the statements being made by the knife-wielding man. It would also kick up dust, and none seems apparent.

Many are wondering why the captors chose to use the green screen in the video. Some believe it is indicative of ISIS captors being less able to move around the Islamic State than initially believed, the green screen tactic being more for intimidation and concealment purposes than production value.

While the condemnation of two captors is almost certain, Japanese citizens are responding to the video with their own visual manipulation. A mocking hashtag translating loosely to “ISIS Crappy Photoshop Grand Prix” has been mentioned more than 75,000 times on Twitter. It features extravagant yet insensitive memes of the hostages and their masked captor. The memes may come in poor taste due to the likely fate of the hostages, but for some humor is their weapon against terror.

Alexis Evans
Alexis Evans is an Assistant Editor at Law Street and a Buckeye State native. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a minor in Business from Ohio University. Contact Alexis at



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