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.

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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.

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