An extensive blog post published on the New York Review of Books’ website (NYRB) this Tuesday cites a Syrian defector from ISIS, claiming that “an Icelandic filmmaker was among the recruits to the group, hence the professional videos used to attract new recruits and scare Western viewers.”
As of yet, no further evidence has been revealed as to whether the claim is true, nor any information about the purportedly Icelandic filmmaker’s identity.
The militant group ISIS or the Islamic State is in control of large territories within Iraq and Syria.
Sarah Birke, the post’s author, is The Economist’s correspondent in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as a regular contributor to the NYRB. She has lived in Damascus, Syria. She describes her source for the information as a “Syrian defector from ISIS’s intelligence services”.
Note: An earlier headline to this story interpreted the NYRB interview as revealing that the purported Icelandic filmmaker was responsible for filming beheading videos for ISIS (“ISIS Defector Claims Beheadings Were Filmed By Icelander”). A closer read of the interview reveals that the source is ambiguous in describing the videos filmed by the alleged Icelander (“professional videos used to attract new recruits and scare Western viewers.”). The headline has been altered to reflect this. We apologize for any misunderstanding this might have caused.