The War Nerd: The long, twisted history of beheadings as propaganda

Chainsoff's Blog

PandoQuarterly

Well, here we are: Another American journalist beheaded by the Islamic State (IS). First it was James Foley, a wild-child freelancer, who was shown kneeling on the sand in an orange jumpsuit—a little visual revenge on Guantanamo dress code—while a Brit jihadi scolded America for daring to interfere with the Islamic State’s blitzkrieg-lite campaign to overrun Northern Iraq.

Foley’s beheading video was released on August 19, 2014. Two weeks later, IS killed a second American hostage, Steven Sotloff, using the same jihadi mise-en-scene: Sotloff in an orange jumpsuit, kneeling in the sand, while the same London-raised war tourist stands next to him with a short combat knife, gesturing with the blade while complaining again about the sheer unfairness of airstrikes taking out IS comrades.

Then the blade goes into action—though several news networks announced they had no intention of showing the actual knife-work, in a “That’ll show those terrorists”…

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