A shocking new video by the Islamic State (IS) group that emerged on social media on January 13 appears to show a child militant shooting dead two men identified as “Russian agents.”
The child militant appears to be an ethnic Kazakh and is very possibly the same child who appeared in a recent Islamic State video featuring Kazakh child fighters undergoing training.
The 7 1/2-minute video, by IS’s propaganda wing the Al-Hayat media group, is titled Uncovering The Enemy Within and is in Russian with English and Arabic subtitles.
The narrator explains that the Islamic State group’s “enemies thought that they could send spies and agents to plot against the Islamic State.”
The video opens with the “confessions” of the two men, whom IS claims were Russian spies “recruited by the Russian intelligence services.”
The first man identifies himself as Zhanbolat Mamaev and says that he is from the Zhambyl region of Kazakhstan. Mamaev says he is an agent of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). However, he appears frightened and it is likely that his confession was made under duress. All of his answers are prompted by questions from a Russian-speaking “interviewer” who is off-camera.
Mamaev goes on to say that he was tasked with going to Syria and finding out information for the FSB, including information from Russian-speaking militants. He says that the FSB had promised to pay him for passing on information.
The captive goes on to say that he had been living in Istanbul “in an apartment next to a large mosque” and that there had been two others there -- an ethnic Karachay from the North Caucasus and a Turkish man.
The second captive appears to be an ethnic Russian and identifies himself as Sergei Ashimov. Like Mamaev, Ashimov appears frightened and his answers appear rehearsed. He uses IS terminology such as “brothers” to describe IS militants. He gives his age as 30 and says that before he came to Syria he worked for the FSB “against Muslims.” Ashimov says he had been tasked with providing information about “brothers fighting in Sham [Syria]” and to find out the location of the leader of IS.
The apparent forced nature of the confessions of the two men -- and their use of IS terminology -- are clues that Mamaev and Ashimov may not be telling the truth about being FSB agents.
Ashimov says that he was a “Muslim before, but then I handed over my brothers and so I became a murtad (apostate),” he told his captors.
The two men are then filmed apparently being shot and killed by a young ethnic Kazakh child.
The child appears to be a Kazakh boy who appeared in a recent IS video released in November and titled Race Toward Good. That video showed a group of Kazakh children undergoing military and ideological instruction in Syria. The boy said that he will be “the one who slaughters you, O Kuffar (infidels).”
After shooting the two men, the child holds his gun aloft and smiles. The video’s narrator explains that the two men have been “humiliated under the feet of these young mujahedin.”
Immediately following the video’s circulation on social media, the Russian Embassy in Damascus issued a statement saying that it had no information about the “publication of a video showing the execution of alleged FSB agents by members of the IS group.”
The FSB declined to comment.
The video was released two days after IS shared images of an alleged child suicide bomber on social media.
According to pro-IS social media accounts on Twitter and on the Russian social networking website VKontakte, the child carried out a suicide truck-bombing attack in Iraq's Salahaddin Province.
Russian pro-IS accounts said the child had killed "tens of Rafidites," a derogatory term used by IS militants for Shi'ite Muslims. Some of the images show him sitting in the driver's seat of a truck and holding a weapon and a grenade.
Some of the images appeared under the title The Battle Of Revenge Of The Mother Of Believers, Aisha, a reference to one of the Prophet Muhammad's wives, who is viewed positively by Sunnis and unfavorably by Shi'ite Muslims.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk