- By Benjamin SolowayBenjamin Soloway is an assistant editor at Foreign Policy. He worked previously in Indonesia as a web editor and Princeton in Asia journalism fellow at the Jakarta Globe. He has also lived in Brazil and Turkey. His work has been published in the Boston Globe, the New Republic, USA Today, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. He studied history at Wesleyan University.
A corporate team building event can be deadly boring, but making a fake Islamic State execution video really isn’t the way to go about spicing it up.
Stunningly, though, that’s exactly what a now-unemployed team of lawyers for British banking giant HSBC did during an outing at an indoor go-karting raceway in Birmingham, England.
The bizarre video, posted to Instagram and spotted by British tabloid the Sun on Monday afternoon before it could be deleted, shows five men, arrayed in the manner of true Islamic State executioners and wearing balaclavas, ululating and chanting “Allahu Akbar” as a bearded “prisoner” kneels before them, his head hanging low.
— The Sun (@TheSun) July 6, 2015
HSBC apologized for the video, calling it “abhorrent,” and fired everyone involved.
@TheSun Once we saw this abhorrent video we took the decision to sack the individuals involved. We apologise for any offence.
— HSBC UK Press Office (@HSBC_UK_Press) July 6, 2015
These corporate synergy-seekers were not the first to try their hands at reenacting an Islamic State video. A parody produced for Iraqi Kurdish television (“We are ISIS. We are ISIS. We milk the goat even if it is male.”) made the rounds awhile back.
The operative difference: Iraqi Kurds have had to stave off the Islamic State and fight for their homes and lives, giving them the right to laugh in the face of possible death. Those HSBC lawyers, to put it generously, have not. Next time around, their colleagues might want to remember that being bored but employed beats being unemployed and mocked across the Internet.
Photo credit: Screengrab via the Sun