The latest gruesome ISIS video features a black, English-speaking child executioner who looks no older than 14 years old—apparently the first time a child has spoken English on camera before carrying out an execution for the group.
The young executioner leads his male victim through a wooded area at the end of the video. The man is hunched under the child’s grip, giving the appearance that he is at least a head taller.
“Oh America, these are the soldiers you arm and you spend money on,” the tween says in accented but fluent English. “We will destroy them, bi’ithnillah.
“I wish to meet you on the hills of Dabiq,” he adds, referencing the apocalyptic battle ISIS expects outside Aleppo.
The victim is Muhammad Tabsho, according to the video. He appears to be a member of the Levantine Front, a group ISIS has criticized in its magazine, Dabiq, for cooperating with the United States and Turkey.
About 18 minutes in length, the slickly produced clip begins with narration about the rival Levantine Front and Tabsho confessing his “crimes.”
The use of children in snuff videos has become somewhat routine for ISIS, but having an English-speaking child serve as executioner is new.
“We’ve seen images of children involved in beheadings before,” Mia Bloom, a professor at Georgia State University, told The Daily Beast.
“In previous videos, it was all about the children either distributing the knives, or perpetrating the acts, or leading the men who were condemned to die in Palmyra,” she said. “But here it’s tacked on at the end.”
Bloom and her researchers are working to the identify the child, who the site Terror Monitor claims is the son of Abu Darda, a militant killed in an American strike. Bloom’s estimate puts the young executioner’s age at between 13 and 15 years old.
Bloom said she wonders whether the child might be an immigrant to the U.K. who hadn’t yet completely adopted British speech patterns, though she noted that she is not an expert on dialects.
The professor’s team has cataloged dozens of children used in terrorist propaganda. Just in the past calendar year, she said, more than 80 kids have been killed fighting for ISIS, according to the researchers’ estimate.
“Kids who’ve been eulogized and celebrated by ISIS on one of their channels, where they advertise all the exploits of their kids,” Bloom said.
That doesn’t begin to cover kids used in propaganda. In addition to the teen executioner seen in the video released Thursday, children have been seen in other execution and propaganda films, including the Cubs of the Caliphate series, which highlights ISIS training camps. There, young boys are seen learning how to assemble rifles and participating in target practice.