Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s political and media adviser said Monday that slain journalist James Foley was actually killed a year ago — a claim that is being slammed by friends of the American photographer.
“James Foley was killed a year ago, not now, and they only released the picture now,” Bouthaina Shabaan told BBC Radio, according to the Telegraph. “The U.N. has the information that he was killed a year ago, so there are a lot of rumours that are confused with the truth.”
GlobalPost president Phil Balboni immediately responded, saying the claim is “totally false” and contending it is “contradicted by a very significant body of incontrovertible evidence.”
“We have multiple eyewitness accounts from hostages held with Jim as recently as last month,” he said. “It’s a disgrace that this was ever broadcast or published.”
[sharequote align=”center”]”It’s a disgrace that this was ever broadcast or published.”[/sharequote]
A video published online earlier this month showed an Islamic State militant behead Foley on camera and threaten to kill another U.S. journalist unless President Barack Obama halted strikes on the group.
Foley’s family had previously released a letter he had sent them in June, in which he said he was praying for them to remain strong.
Nevertheless, theories about his death have begun to swirl.
Over the weekend, experts said the horrifying video published online showing Folely’s beheading may have not have been real.
“I think it has been staged,” one analyst told the Times of London. “My feeling is that the execution may have happened after the camera was stopped.”
Experts said the knife held against the journalist’s neck never drew blood and pointed to a possible blip in the footage hinting the final video may have contained several clips spliced together. Further, experts noted the video faded to black when the beheading started to occur.
On Monday, it was reported that British intelligence had identified London rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, 24, as a key suspect in the beheading of Foley.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, however, declined to comment on the report.
“We’re not in a position to say exactly who the man in the video is yet, but we are actively working with our British counterparts to determine that every day,” she said. “There are a variety of ways to do this, and we’re putting the full force of our resources behind that effort now.”
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