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Father Of Teen Reportedly Executed By IS Denies Claims His Son Was 'Israeli Spy'

The parents of 19-year-old Muhammad Musallam (shown in the portrait) react to the news of his reported killing at the family's home in the East Jerusalem Jewish settlement of Neve-Yaakov.
The parents of 19-year-old Muhammad Musallam (shown in the portrait) react to the news of his reported killing at the family's home in the East Jerusalem Jewish settlement of Neve-Yaakov.

The father of Muhammad Musallam, the East Jerusalem teenager apparently killed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group after being accused of spying for Israel, has said that his son went missing after a trip to Turkey and that he must have been brainwashed by the militants.

A shocking 13-minute video released by Islamic State militants on the evening of March 10 shows 19-year-old Musallam being taken to a field by a French-speaking militant. There, the young man is made to kneel before he is shot in the forehead at close range by a child dressed in a military uniform. The child then chants "Allahu Akbar!" (God is great.)

The authenticity of the footage has yet to be verified.

Before the footage of the shooting, Musallam is shown sitting in a room wearing an orange jumpsuit. He says that he had been a trained operative of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and that his brother Ismail and his father had encouraged him in this endeavor.

Musallam, whose family lives in East Jerusalem in the Israeli settlement of Neve Yaakov, had Israeli citizenship. Musallam's Israeli identity card is shown in the Islamic State video of his killing, evidence that he had not taken steps to destroy it to conceal his identity from the militant group.

Musallam's father, Said Musallam, told Israeli Army Radio on March 11 that he did not know how the Islamic State group had brainwashed his son.

"I don't know what they did to him. He says he was told, 'Paradise, girls, villas, money.' They promised him all sorts of stuff," his father says.

Said Musallam told Israeli Army Radio that he did not understand what had been missing in his son's life.

"I work, his brothers work, his mom also works," he says.

Musallam had undertaken voluntary national service at a fire station in Jerusalem, his father says. Although Palestinians under Israeli rule in East Jerusalem are exempt from mandatory army service, a small number do undertake voluntary national service -- a sign of the contrasting trends in the city, where alongside reports of neglect and discrimination fueling increased violence are claims that a growing number of Palestinians have reportedly been applying for Israeli ID cards and enrolling in Israeli academic institutions.

Four months ago, after he completed his national service, Musallam enrolled in a firefighting course in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion, his father says.

However, instead of going there, the young man flew to Turkey and then on to Syria.

For a while, Musallam stayed in touch with his family. He even told them that he did not like the Islamic State group, his father says.

"Actually, he was against Daesh. Because of the images he saw on TV, and what Daesh was doing in the world, he opposed them," Said Musallam told Israeli Army Radio, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Musallam's father says that his son had probably tried to come home to East Jerusalem and that is why the militants killed him.

"When he tried to come back, for sure they wouldn't let him return. They had to do something like that. If Muhammad had come here and been interrogated, he'd tell them everything he saw there. It's obvious," he says.

ALSO READ: Militant, Teen In Latest IS Killing Video 'Are French Citizens'

The theory that Musallam had been detained by Islamic State militants after he tried to leave Syria is reinforced by a phone call that the young man's family received.

Two months after his son disappeared, Said Musallam says the family received a call from an overseas number. A man that he did not know told him that Muhammad was under arrest.

"Your son gave me your phone number. I saw your son inside a prison in Tell Abyad [in Raqqa Province in Syria]. He's been detained. He tried to run away, and the authorities of that Daesh grabbed him and put him under arrest. I don't know what will happen to him, but if he gets out, I'll help him. I'll bring him home," the man said, according to Said Musallam.

Muhammad Musallam had been "a guy who held his head high the whole time. Everyone loved him," his father says, while expressing doubt that the Mossad would recruit a young man of 19 "who doesn't know about life."

Said Musallam says he has not watched the video of his son. He has a heart condition and his other sons stopped him, he told Israeli Army Radio.

The video of Musallam came after the 19-year-old had been featured in the latest issue of the Islamic State group's magazine, Dabiq, in February.

Since that time, Musallam's father says that the Israeli authorities have not questioned him.

"Since it was announced about a month ago that Daesh caught a Mossad spy, no one called me. Not the Shabak (the Israel Security Agency, Israel's domestic intelligence service), not the Mossad, and not the police. Not anyone," Said Musallam says.

Child 'Executioners'

The child militant who shot Musallam was described as a "cub of the caliphate," a term used by the Islamic State group to refer to its youngest recruits. The nickname comes from the term used by the militants to describe themselves -- "lions" -- and is a sign of the pride taken by the extremist group in training and using children as militants.

The March 10 video showing Musallam's apparent killing is believed to be the second recorded case of the Islamic State group using a child militant to carry out an execution-style killing.

In January, the Islamic State group released a video showing a child militant apparently shooting dead two men accused of being Russian FSB spies.

The militant group is openly training children as fighters. A video released in February shows young children being drilled in a military training camp in the Islamic State's Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world.


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