The following videos were posted online today from the city of Raqqa, which has been under the control of Jihadist Syrian opposition groups for the past several weeks. (Graphic)
The videos show the execution of three men described as Assad army officers, knelt in the middle of a public square, in front of a the Islamic black standard used by the Islamic State of Iraq. A speech is given to the gathered crowd, stating the execution is in retaliation for the massacres of Sunnis in Banias, Homs, and other areas, and singles out Assadists and Alawites in particular. The full speech translated into English can be read here.
But what’s even more alarming about this video is the statement isn’t made in the name of Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, or any other well known Jihadists groups in Syria like you might expect, but The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is Jihadist group announced by the leader of the The Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, made up of the al-Qaeda tied Islamic State of Iraq, and Jabhat al-Nusra, reported here:
> Al-Qaeda in Iraq – released a recorded audio message by its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, in which he announced that the Syria jihadi group Jabhat Al-Nusra (JN) has been merely an extension of ISI in Syria. Al-Baghdadi confirms that Jabhat Al-Nusra has been receiving monthly funds from ISI. In this vein, Al-Baghdadi announces that the names ISI and JN are not to be used anymore; instead, he declares the official merging of the two groups under the name “Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham.” Although videos have been posted from groups claiming to be part of The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham as far as I’m aware this is the first time that a statement like this has been made by The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham inside Syria. It seems to be a very significant event, almost a coming out party for the organisation in Syria, and executing three men for alleged crimes they had no direct hand in seems to be making a statement of intent.