The latest propaganda video released by ISIS shows a child soldier -- around 10 years old -- executing two men, who are assumed to be Russian spies. However, there are speculations that the incident might be staged.
The video, which was released on Tuesday by the militant group's official propaganda outlet "al-Hayat Media", shows a young child, who looks very similar to the child soldier from an older propaganda video titled "Race Towards Good", shooting two alleged Russian soldiers. Twitter handle linked to the anonymous vidme account, in which the seven-and-a-half minute video was uploaded on Tuesday, is no longer in use.
"Uncovering an Enemy Within" begins with two men confessing to an off-camera interviewer that they are Russian spies. The first one, named Mamayev Jambulat who was born in Kazakhstan, revealed that he was sent to gather information on the Islamic State. The second soldier, Ashimov Sergey Nikolayavich who was formerly part of the Russian intelligence and a Muslim once, was sent to locate and kill a specific IS leader, he said.
Although Russia is not part of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition that has been launching air strikes in the areas inhabited by the extremists, it is a long-standing ally and active supporter of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. However, neither of the "killed" spies' statements have been verified.
After the completion of the interview, the adult militant next to the child soldier standing in the barren desert says that Allah has gifted the Islamic State with the two spies. "By Allah's grace, they are now in the custody of the lion cubs of the Khilafah," he says.
The young soldier, who was also part of the propaganda video that shows children training with firearms, walks up to the alleged spies and shoots them both in the back of the head. When asked what he wants to be "in the future", he smilingly replies, "I will be the one who slaughters you, o kuffar (non-Muslim)... I will be a mujahid, insha'allah (God willing)"
Although experts are divided on whether the "execution" is staged, Daily Mail suggests that "lack of visible injuries on the men and evidence of blood after the killings suggest the executions may be staged for the cameras." Even Eliot Higgins, the founder of the Brown Moses Blog wrote on Twitter: "Watched that new ISIS video frame by frame but I don't see an impact nor any blood."
"There does appear to be some blood coming out the the 2nd victims nose just as it fades to black, so it could be genuine (unfortunately)," he later added.
Releasing terrifying videos as this one is crucial for the militant group, because they need to stay in news so as to instigate and propagate fear. As Charlie Winter, a researcher for the London-based counter-extremism Quilliam Foundation Think Tank explains to IB Times UK edition, "Uncovering an Enemy Within" is consistent with the ISIS propaganda strategy.
"What they are trying to do is to stay in the newspapers, keep people remembering this is the 'worst' jihadist group," Winter said adding that their purpose was to prove ISIS has "complete control over the people living within its borders and, hence, the ability to indoctrinate their children."