Does timing of latest ISIS video signal its growing fears of defections?

The Islamic State group has released a new video that claims to show a child killing an alleged 'Israeli spy.' The group had accused the captive Israeli Arab, Mohamed Musallam, of spying for Mossad. 

Ammar Awad/Reuters/file
The mother and father of Muhammad Musallam, an Israeli Arab who was killed by Islamic State militants in Syria on Tuesday, hold a photo of him in their East Jerusalem home.

A daily roundup of terrorism and security issues.

A new video from the self-described Islamic State shows a young boy shooting an Israeli Arab teen accused by the group of spying for Israel’s intelligence agency. It’s the latest in a string of graphic murder videos and may be aimed at deterring any would-be defectors within IS ranks.

The 13-minute video, which was released Tuesday and has not been verified, shows a young boy and a man dressed in camouflage standing behind 19-year-old Mohamed Musallam, an Israeli citizen from Jerusalem. Speaking French, the adult fighter accuses Mr. Musallam of signing up to fight with IS in order to spy for Mossad. The boy later shoots Musallam.

The video lists the names and addresses of other alleged spies, including Musallam’s father and brother.

IS has released multiple videos showing the killings of foreign journalists and aid workers, as well as a Jordanian pilot. The extremist group’s “highly produced videos have been timed for deliberate effect: to deliver threats, sway public opinion, or attract new recruits,” reports The Daily Beast.

The video is “aimed at emphasizing the rigid security apparatus of the Islamic State against spying and potential dissent,” Aymenn al Tamimi of the Middle East Forum research group told The Daily Beast.

The timing of the release could be in response to reports, including one from The Washington Post earlier this week, that highlight setbacks within IS.

The Islamic State ­appears to be starting to fray from within, as dissent, defections and setbacks on the battlefield sap the group’s strength and erode its aura of invincibility among those living under its despotic rule.

Reports of rising tensions between foreign and local fighters, aggressive and increasingly unsuccessful attempts to recruit local citizens for the front lines, and a growing incidence of guerrilla attacks against Islamic State targets suggest the militants are struggling to sustain their carefully cultivated image as a fearsome fighting force drawing Muslims together under the umbrella of a utopian Islamic state.

The decision to use a young boy in the assassination could be an effort to highlight IS’s recruiting ability. IS “is demonstrating the ‘growing’ Caliphate and that they are raising their next generation of warriors now,” Veryan Khan of the Florida-based Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium told Fox News.

Israel and Musallam’s family deny that he was an Israeli spy. "Mohammad was told by [IS] to say about himself that he works for the Israelis," Musallam’s father told Reuters. "They took him as a victim, only to show the world, so the world would be afraid of them."

Musallam’s family told The Associated Press that about four months ago their son left for Syria without informing them. He later told his brother that he was going to fight with IS.

About a month ago, the family received a phone call informing them that their son was captured trying to flee IS and that he was imprisoned by the group.

If he returned home, “he might be caught by the Israelis and tell them what he had seen. So they wanted to get rid of him,” his father said.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Does timing of latest ISIS video signal its growing fears of defections?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today