Footage of a notorious Iraqi Kurdish Islamic State (IS) militant who was reportedly killed in Kobani in February appears in a new video showing the execution-style killing of a Kurdish-speaking prisoner.
Abu Khattab al-Kurdi's death is confirmed by IS for the first time in the 24-minute-long video, which was released by IS on March 23 and which bears the logo of the group's media wing, Al Hayat. Khattab is shown in the footage together with his young son.
The video names four Kurdish militants appearing in the footage as Abu Ishaq, Bin Ladin, Abu Hammam and Khattab, indicating that Khattab has been killed since the video was shot by including the message, "May Allah accept him."
A Kurdish activist who goes by the name Avesta on Twitter tweeted that Khattab claims in the video to be a descendant of Saladin al-Ayubi, a Muslim military and political leader of Kurdish Sunni descent who led Islamic forces during the Crusades.
According to Avesta, Khattab also vowed to put an end to the atheism of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Both the KDP and PUK support a secularist ideology.
At the end of the video, which is titled A Message To The People Of Kurdistan, a Kurdish-speaking captive is shot through the head at close range by one of the militants.
The video was soon made unavailable by YouTube and the associated account terminated.
Around 300 Kurds are thought to have joined IS. Some of those Kurdish militants, including al-Kurdi, who came from the town of Halabja in Iraq near the Iranian border, are believed to have played a significant role in IS's fight for Kobani.
A Message To The People Of Kurdistan marks an escalation in IS's propaganda aimed at the Kurds, and comes as the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga militia continue to push back against IS militants in northern Iraq, supported by U.S.-led air strikes.
The latest propaganda video was released just two days after IS released a video appearing to show three Kurdish peshmerga militiamen being beheaded.
The March 21 video, released to coincide with celebrations to mark the Kurdish New Year or Norouz, showed the three Kurdish men dressed in bright orange jumpsuits. They are forced to march through a bombed-out building before being decapitated by three Kurdish-speaking militants in front of a crowd.
The executioner warned the Kurds that more beheadings would follow if they refused to capitulate to IS. The footage has not been independently verified.
In February, another IS propaganda video showed at least 21 peshmerga militiamen clad in orange jumpsuits being paraded around the Iraqi streets in black cages. The captives are made to urge their fellow peshmerga fighters to stop fighting IS.
The IS group has also targeted the Kurds in Syria, where the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) continue to fight against IS militants after routing them from Kobani.
IS on March 21 claimed responsibility for a series of explosions that targeted Kurdish Norouz festivities in northeastern Syria. As many as 45 people, including at least 12 children, are thought to have been killed in two blasts in the town of Hassakah on March 20.
The March 23 video is not the first time that IS militants have declared their intention to rid the Kurdish people of their secular, socialist leaders. A video published on Russian-language social media sites in November and filmed in Kobani shows Chechen militants from IS's Chechen-led Katibat al-Aqsa vowing that they will not allow the Kurdish people to be "symbolized by godlessness and communism."
-- Joanna Paraszczuk