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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Unusual Features in Video of American Hostage Roy Hallums

By J.M. Berger

Click here for, where subscribers can view the Hallums video.

A video released today shows Roy Hallums, an American worker taken hostage in November, reading a statement in which he pleads for his life, condemns the Bush administration and asks Arab leaders (specifically Moamar Ghadafi) to intervene on his behalf, all while under obvious duress.

There are several unusual features to this video. It was apparently first distributed offline in Iraq several hours ago, then captured and posted online much later in the day. This video capture is two minutes long, compared to CNN's report that the Hallums video was 60-seconds long. This copy appears to be a low-quality rip of the source videotape.

There are several important stylistic differences from previous videos which raise questions about the identity of Hallums' captors. Generally, the most prolific terrorist kidnappers — the Zarqawi Group (al Qaeda in Iraq) and Ansar Al-Sunnah — will display a banner with the logo of the originating organization.

This video is noticeably unadorned, and there are no images of Hallums' captors. The audio quality of this file is also much lower than the usual. There are no overtly religious statements on the video. The plea for help from Ghadafi, who is currently more or less aligned with the U.S., is also notable. Taken in whole, these factors suggest Hallums may have been kidnapped by a secular gang for ransom, rather than by the usual political or religious insurgents.


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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