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Did this man just find the spot of the Islamic State's latest gruesome murder?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/25/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

British analyst picks spot after complex image analysis

A British expert on images of Syria believes he may have identified the exact location where James Foley, the kidnapped American journalist, was beheaded by a terrorist from the Islamic State.

American journalist James Foley scene in a video by the Islamic State, moments before he was beheaded.

American journalist James Foley scene in a video by the Islamic State, moments before he was beheaded.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
8/25/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Syria, Middle East, International


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Eliot Higgins, a video and photo analyst from Leicester-who was previously working on investigating the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil War-has methodically analyzed the five-minute video which shows the beheading of the 40-year-old reporter, in an effort to pinpoint the exact spot where the murder occurred.

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Higgins has concluded that Foley was likely killed in the hills south of the Syrian city of Raqqa, whose precise co-ordinates he has even calculated.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.


If correct, his findings could provide a crucial clue in the search for the hooded terrorist with a British accent, who appeared to be the murderer in the video released by the Islamic State. Locating the site of the murder would make it easier to link terrorists known to be operating in the region with Foley's death.

To find the location where the video was shot, Higgins first blacked out the figures in the footage in order to analyze the barren landscape behind them. The hilly, featureless terrain gave away few clues, but in the distance Higgins could make out a green plain below the hills.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.


Higgins compared this to a satellite image of Raqqa in northern Syria-the captial of the new Islamic State-where the city can be seen. Here what is seen is surrounded by green plans with more hills to the south. Having analyzed all areas of Syria under Islamic State control, he found no other locations which fitted this geography.

He then used the position of shadows on the film, which he says suggests that the video was filmed in the morning with the camera pointing northwards, which in turn led him to an area of raised ground, and a visible edge of a track that leads to a break in the rocks.

Next he focused on the tracks and compared the landscape with images taken by satellite of the hills south of Raqqa and identified a spot where similar tracks appeared to enter the area and looked at a configuration of trees, which can be seen in the video.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.

Images used by a British analyst to discover the spot of the murder of American James Foley.


This led him to conclude that he had positively identified the likeliest location of Foley's murder. An isolated spot on a dusty hillside with the geo-positioning co-ordinates 35.88219 and 39.03617.

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