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Skeptical online reaction to Austin Tice video

A video said to show US journalist Austin Tice captive in Syria has appeared online. Austin's parents have confirmed that the man in the video is their son, who has been missing since mid-August. However, many suspect that the scenario is being played out for the cameras.


  1. The video was posted to YouTube on September 26 at 14:09 GMT. It is the only video posted to the uploading account, which was registered the same day to Syria. The video description translates as "Video shows U.S. journalist Austin Tice alive".  ("مقطع فيديو يظهر الصحفي الأمريكي اوستن تايس على قيد الحياة"). 
  2. Austin Tice still alive
  3. The video was first posted to Twitter on Monday, October 1 at 0234 GMT by a pro-Assad account. The tweets and Facebook updates blame al-Qaida and Syrian Islamist grouping Jabhat al-Nusra for the kidnapping. The captive man recites the Shahada or creed in the video. 
  4. The video was posted to an associated Facebook account twice in the next 18 hours. 
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  6. The second posting to Facebook does not mention any terrorist groups, but notes that the the finger of blame had been pointed at the Assad regime. 
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  8. Austin's parents identified him in the video:
  9. Mr Tice's parents, Marc and Debra Tice, released a statement saying: Though it is difficult to see our son in such a setting and situation as that depicted in the video, it is reassuring that he appears to be unharmed. It is evident that the current events in Syria are challenging and difficult for everyone involved. Our wish is that peace and stability can once again return to the people of Syria and that our eldest son, Austin, will soon be safely returned to our family
  10. It was greeted with scepticism, however, with experts saying it did not look like a jihadi video.
  11. Nor did it appear on the usual forums:
  12. State Department sources also appeared sceptical:
  13. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday that U.S. officials had viewed the video but weren’t in a position to verify its authenticity. “We continue to believe that, to the best of our knowledge . . . he is in Syrian government custody,” she said.
  14. That all-round scepticism was welcomed:
  15. Blogger Moses Brown and others got to work on the video:
  16. Many pointed to what appeared to be an over-the-top attempt to make Tice's captors look like Islamic extremists (whatever that looks like):
  17. In the video, the captors are wearing Afghan-style salwar khameez — tunic and pants — that appear to be freshly pressed and clean. The video would mark the first time Syrian rebels have been seen wearing such clothes, said Joseph Holliday, who researches Syrian rebel groups at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.
  18. Many thought the protagonists, and their clothes, looked fresh out of the costume department: