Syria Feature: Questions About the “Boy Beheads Two Regime Officers” Video

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 9:56 | James Miller in EA Middle East and Turkey

Yesterday we noted a claimed video of a group of men and a young boy beheading two men who were reportedly “Alawite officers” involved in the Houla massacre. The video was reportedly taken on Sunday, provided to a journalist by a “commander in Homs”.By the end of the day, however, activists were claiming the discovery of footage, posted on a pro-regime YouTube channel months ago, that apparently had some of the images in the beheading video which emerged yesterday:

    Brown Moses @Brown_Moses   10 Dec 12

    Did anyone manage to get a copy of that video showing the execution of the guy responsible for the Houla Massacre (with kids involved)?

    الجندي الحر @FreeSySoldier

    @Brown_Moses Old video. Appeared for the first time on pro regime channel…

    10 Dec 12  Mr. Green @Guardian_Mario

    Screenshots of the two execution videos first @zaidbenjamin’s “Dec 09” post second from… on Nov 26:

    10 Dec 12

An observer who circulated the beheading video initially stood by the claim that it was taken on Saturday morning, but later he amended this from “sources”, to say the incident occured on 22 October in the al-Khalidiyah district of Homs.

That “clarification” fits with the report of Zilal, an activist who is associated with the opposition CFDPC, that the images — taken in October — first appeared on a programme of Sama TV, a pro-regime television channel.

The heavily-edited video of the beheading is interspersed with scenes from a Turkish soap opera, apparently an attempt to link “crimes” of the Syrian insurgents with the evil behaviour of fictional Turkish characters. The film does not make much sense, but it does suggest hat someone filmed real beheadings and that footage was leaked to regime supporters. Alternatively, the chosen clips from the October video may have been taken out of context, leaving the possibility that the men committing the acts do not fit the narrative of the “insurgents killing officers responsible for the Houla massacre”. More than 24 hours after yesterday’s dramatic emergence of Boy Beheads Officers, there are more questions than answers. It illustrates two things: how easily misinformation can cloud aspects of the Syrian story, and how the reality on the ground is likely far more terrible than journalists can establish.