Al Jazeera unpublished an article claiming U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff’s beheadings were staged. The terrorist group ISIS released videos showing the two journalists’ beheadings in the past month.
In a Sept. 7 press statement on Al Jazeera’s website, Al Jazeera quoted its managing director Yasser Abu Hilalah explaining the retraction and admitting the Al Jazeera Arabic story was wrong.
“In respect to families of the victims and as we share their grief, Al Jazeera Arabic’s website decided to retract an inaccurate article that questioned the legitimacy of Foley and Sotloff’s beheading videos after a theory surfaced on a number of American social media sites claiming they were produced as a pretext ahead of a US invasion of Syria,” Hilalah said.
Hilalah added that Al Jazeera wants “all kidnapped journalists” freed and that Al Jazeera had called for the “kidnappers to release” Sotloff.
The original article, “Were Foley and Sotloff really executed?” accused the video of being faked by Foley, Al Arabiya reported. Al Arabiya is an Arab TV news outlet and website and noted it is a competitor of Al Jazeera Arabic. The story said:
“Foley was playing the role of champion not the victim only, for he recites a lengthy statement in peerless theatrical performance, and it seems from tracking the movement of his eyes that he was reading a text from an autocue.”
The report further claimed Foley’s killer was “rather similar to a Hollywood actor.”
Al Jazeera’s report also accused Sotloff’s video of being faked. “It added that the same remarks also apply to the video of Sotloff’s execution. Similar to Foley, it claimed, Sotloff displayed no signs of fear, neither during his statement nor during the execution,” Al Arabiya reported.
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Al Jazeera also suggested Foley “colluded in the fabrication of the tape,” according to Al Arabiya.
Al Jazeera previously said on its Twitter account that it wouldn’t use “images of [Sotloff’s] death, or him in a jumpsuit.” It said, “we respect Steven Sotloff,” as iMediaEthics wrote. Check out our review of what news outlets did use images of Sotloff from the beheading video on front pages last week.
The New York Times used one image from the video.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Star said it received four complaints over its edited video of Foley’s death.
The New York Post put a graphic image on its front page of Foley just before his death, whereas the New York Daily News used on its website an image of Foley’s head lying on his body.
The Asian American Journalists Association called for Fox News to apologize over its on air report suggesting that Muslims and ISIS were “interchangeable,” it said in its statement.
iMediaEthics has written to Al Jazeera for more information.
Hat Tip: Mediaite