Center for Strategic Communication


Russian jihadists seconds before they execute Syrians in Aleppo. Click the image to view the video at the Syrian Center for Documentation’s Facebook page. Warning: the video is extremely graphic.

A video of jihadists executing a group of Syrians in the city of Aleppo has emerged. The execution is carried out by Russian-speaking fighters, and one of those to be killed was said to be mentally ill.

The graphic video was published today on the Facebook page of a group known as the Syrian Center for Documentation. The group claimed that civilians, including children, were among those killed. Although the date and exact location of the execution has not been disclosed, the Syrian Center for Documentation indicated that it took place in Aleppo.

In the video, a number of well-armed fighters are seen moving civilians into a large room. A group of young and middle-aged males appears arranged in a line, while others are huddled in small groups or are being moved around the room. Some of the captives are flex-tied. Lying on the floor of the room are the bodies of several men who appear to have been executed.

The fighters speak in Russian, according to a translation of the video by Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Boris Zilberman.

“They spoke pretty decent Russian … better than some of the folks that you can usually find on Kavkaz Center,” Zilberman said, referring to one of the propaganda arms of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate.

The fighters seem eager to proceed with the execution, while the cameraman is concerned about the angle he should use to film it.

“Come on, come on, what about this injured?” one of the fighters says.

“Should I film from the front or back?” the cameraman asks. He decides to film from the rear.

Seven men are lined up, kneeling on the ground. One of the fighters walks behind the men, and buttstrokes each of the men in the back of the head. A group of fighters then lines up and opens fire, killing the men.

After shooting the men, one of the fighters asks, “Whose phone is this?” and then walks over to a fighter in military fatigues and a helmet who appears to be the group’s leader.

“This is what happens to those that fight against Islam,” the fighter says to the leader. The leader then points to a man on the ground who appears to be still alive, and orders the men to shoot him again.

Just before the execution, one of the men who about to be killed says in Arabic that another in the group is “Darwish,” a term used locally to describe the mentally ill, according to the Syrian Center for Documentation. The jihadists do not respond. It is unclear if the mentally ill man was among those seen killed in the video.

Jihadists from the Russian Caucasus are known to fight in both the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) and the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, which is al Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria.

There is controversy over which group carried out the execution, and when it took place. The Syrian Center for Documentation reported that the ISIS carried out the execution, and that the video was shot recently in the village of Hretan just north of Aleppo.

Others claimed that the execution was carried out by an Al Nusrah Front unit commanded by a Chechen known as Abu Muslim al Shishani, and that it took place 10 months ago. Abu Muslim is said to have fought alongside Ibn Khattab, the famed Saudi jihadist who led al Qaeda’s International Islamic Brigade in Chechnya before he was assassinated by Russian forces in 2002.

Omar al Shishani is the overall commander of the Caucasus jihadists who fight in the ranks of the ISIS. Al Shishani received permission from Doku Umarov, the emir of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Caucasus Emirate, to join the ISIS.

Omar’s forces often serve as the ISIS’ shock troops, and his unit functions as the vanguard for the ISIS.

The ISIS has been denounced by al Qaeda’s General Command for failing to resolve its dispute with the Al Nusrah Front, the Islamic Front, and other rebel groups. The ISIS rules with a heavy hand and refuses to cooperate with the other jihadist groups to resolve disputes. The dispute caused a large group of Chechens to break ranks with the ISIS and join the Al Nusrah Front.