Former ISIS Fighter In Yemen Reveals How ISIS Fakes Videos And Uses Fighters As Actors

February 21, 2016

The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

On February 19, 2016, the Al-Hidaya media group, which is associated with Al-Qaeda, published a 12-minute video titled "The Hollywood Reality Of Al-Baghdadi Group." The video, which was posted on the group's official Twitter account (@Hedayh_701), features the testimony of Abu 'Ataa' Al-Sanaa'ni, a former member of ISIS in Yemen who recently defected from its ranks and wished to expose the truth behind the organization's conduct. He discusses ISIS's policy of indiscriminately targeting mosques and spilling the blood of innocent Sunnis, as well as the "forgeries" published by its media department.

Abu 'Atta' first says that he had first decided to join Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) some 18 months ago, but that one of his ISIS commanders convinced him to join their ranks instead. However, he eventually decided to abandon ISIS and to expose the two main factors that led him to make this decision:

The first factor was ISIS's indiscriminate bombing of mosques in Yemen with no regard to the Sunni worshippers present at the time. Abu 'Ataa' states that he was a member of ISIS's suicide bomber cadre, but decided to avoid carrying out a suicide mission after being instructed to blow himself up in a mosque that was mostly frequented by Sunni worshippers.

The second issue addressed by Abu 'Ataa' is the "information lies" by ISIS in Yemen. Abu 'Ataa' is seen in the video standing in front of a projector playing the video "Those Refuting Injustice", published by ISIS Yemen in late September 2015.[1] Abu 'Ataa' says that he was staying in a safe house in Hadhramaut with other fighters, when an ISIS Yemen information activist came by and asked them to participate in the filming of a video. They were taken to a location and served as actors, playing both ISIS fighters and their Houthi captives. Abu 'Ataa' points to a scene in the video showing him supposedly shooting Houthis with his comrade Frauq Al-Dahrami. He says that he and his friends were also supposed to play Houthis fleeing for their lives in another scene, but that it was not filmed due to curious onlookers gathering on the set. Another scene in the video, which shows ISIS fighters storming a house where Houthi soldiers were staying actually features the ISIS safe house where Abu 'Ataa' was staying. He is seen in the actual house explaining how the scenes were originally shot and says that the ISIS information activist, Abu 'Othman Al-Hijazi, actually plays a dead Houthi soldier inside the house. Abu 'Ataa' says that the blood on Al-Hijazi's face was simply red paint. The video later shows scenes from the original ISIS Yemen video with the red caption "Lies."

At the end of the video, Abu 'Ataa' addresses all those who remained in the ranks of ISIS and says: "Listen to the advice of a brother who desires the best for you. Leave this group, which has ruined more than it has built, and has divided more than it has united."

Abu 'Ataa' discussing scene in the ISIS video that shows himself (right) and Faruq Al-Hadhrami (left) firing on "Houthis"

Abu 'Ataa' (top) in the safe house, demonstrating how Abu 'Othman Al-Hijazi played a dead Houthi soldier in the video (bottom)



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