Islamic State in Syria has released a video showing the brutal beheading 12 men accused of fighting for the terrorist group’s Al Qaeda and Army of Islam (Jaysh al-Islam) rivals. The video – titled ‘Repent Before We Apprehend You’, was released by the lesser known Damascus branch of IS. Filmed close to Syrian capital and regime stronghold Damascus, the footage shows the terrified men being interviewed and paraded in front of the camera before their execution. After ‘confessing’ to the crime of opposing Islamic State and failing to declare allegiance to the terrorist group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the men are led out into a desert clearing where they are forced to their knees and each man executed by a different masked member of the IS.
Hollywood-style graphics begin the clip and show the 12 victims hunched over as they are dragged through a remote stretch of desert to the site where they will be murdered. The men walk uncomfortably due to the way their arms are bound, each forced to wear bright orange jumpsuits, and led by heavily armed men wearing full battle fatigues but with their faces exposed. The victims are then handed over to executioners, who cover their faces.
The footage momentarily rewinds and fades into a montage of Al Qaeda and Army of Islam fighters battling Islamic State, a reminder that the three jihadi groups remain fierce rivals despite having a common enemy in Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Over the next few segments, the 12 prisoners are interviewed about the so-called crimes and are forced to confess that they wish they had joined Islamic State before it was too late. The overall theme of the video is along the same lines, and sends a clear signal to other rebel groups fighting in Syria that they must declare allegiance to IS ‘before being overcome’.
While speaking directly into the camera, the men appear clean-shaven – a rarity for jihadis and something likely to have been intended to humiliate the men before they are killed. Seconds later the clip cuts back to the victims wearing orange jumpsuits being led to their deaths.
After being marched to the execution site, the armed jihadis take a step back and another group – all of them masked and a wearing different style of combat gear – step forward to carry out the beheadings.
One fighter whose face is slightly more exposed than the others speaks in Arabic and issues another warning that other jihadi groups must accept Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as their leader or otherwise face certain death.
Over the following three minutes, the video follows the same format as other Islamic State murder videos released over the past year. Once the lead executioner finishes speaking, the militants begin to execute the victims, pushing their fingers into the men’s eyes while cutting their throats with small knives. The men wince in agony before dying, at which point the camera cuts to the altogether too familiar site of the victims’ heads being placed on their backs as a final act of humiliation.
A terrorist group battling Islamic State in Syria has turned the tables on its enemies by capturing and slaughtering 18 IS soldiers on camera. Dressed in orange jumpsuits – attire usually worn by Islamic State’s victims – Army of Islam (Jaysh al-Islam) soldiers lead the shackled jihadis to their deaths. Islamic State’s captured soldiers are forced to kneel as a commander announces: ‘Allah did not make a disease without appointing a remedy to it.’ The jihadis – dressed entirely in black – are then given something to drink before each of their faces are clearly shown in the 19 minute-long video. They are then shot in the back of the head at point blank range with shotguns.
Before the Islamic State fighters are killed, an Army of Islam militant says: ‘The most serious calamity for our jihad today is a group of people who grow at a time of division among Muslims. This group claimed to be the mother state and made Takfir [accused of apostasy] on other Muslims, shed their blood and looted their properties and dignities. They worsened… the ordeal of Muslims by corrupting their religion and livelihood and killing the jihadi leaders who did their best to help our stricken nation. They wreaked havoc on our people in liberated areas and cut the supply route of jihadis. They left… Tehran intact and instead they attacked our mosques. This is the penalty for what they have committed. We also call on their fellows to repent.’
Also in the video, Army of Islam claims that through investigation and confessions, they have allegedly uncovered collaboration between senior Islamic State commanders and high-ranking officers of Syrian intelligence in Damascus, regarding destroying rebel factions in Eastern Ghouta and the government ceding the area to IS to establish an emirate there. Bear in mind that this is coming from Islamic State prisoners under duress, and from Army of Islam, who’s goal is to overthrow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. So this information, though newsworthy, should be met with skepticism.
Led by Zahran Alloush, Army of Islam reportedly commands as many as 25,000 fighters. It was created in 2011 when Saudi Arabia allegedly engineered the merger of over 50 rebel factions after growing alarmed at the rise of al-Qaeda and Islamic State in Syria. Saudi Arabia has reportedly sent millions of dollars to arm and train their fighters, who operate in the war-ravaged Syrian city of Damascus, in their ongoing battle against President Bashar al-Assad. In April this year, the group released a striking video showing off 1,700 troops, a fleet of armoured tanks and special forces soldiers in an impressive military parade.