Isis video investigated by UK security agencies as race is on to identify 'British' militant and child

The video purports to show the execution of five men accused of spying for the UK

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The Independent Online

The Government is investigating a video released by the Isis militant group that purports to show the execution of five men accused of spying for Britain.

Efforts are being made to identify a masked militant seen speaking in a British accent in the video, as well as a young child wearing military fatigues who is heard saying in English that “we will kill the kuffar [non-believers] over there”.

British officials confirmed they are examining the 10-minute video, which was posted online by the militant group’s Raqqa-based media wing on Sunday.

A Foreign Office source described the video as “Isis propaganda”, designed “to divert attention away from its recent military failures in Iraq and its inability to look after the citizens in the areas it controls”.


A small child shown in the video speaking in English

The use of a masked apparently British militant has been seen as an attempt to recreate the aura of mystery that surrounded “Jihadi John”, an Isis fighter later unmasked as UK national Mohammed Emwazi who was killed in an air strike in Syria.

The UK intelligence services are expected to use voice analysis techniques to try and match the militant’s speech with any known to have left Britain for Syria – but it could be months before his identity is revealed, and there are no guarantees of success.

In the video, five men are shown wearing orange jumpsuits and "confessing" to spying on behalf of Britain.


Isis suffered repeated military setbacks in 2015

Later in the 10-minute video the men are shown kneeling on the ground before five executioners, as a militant speaking in a British accent says they have been "abandoned" by the Government.

It is thought the spies are not British citizens, but have been executed for working for the coalition and providing photos and videos from inside Raqqa.

Charlie Winter, an expert in Isis's media output, said they are alleged to have handed intelligence to foreign fighters from the UK, and one was reported to have captured footage later used by international media outlets.

Speaking to the camera, the masked gunman can be heard saying: "This is a message to David Cameron," who he describes as an "imbecile" and "slave of the White House".

Addressing "the people of Britain", the militant says Isis will "one day invade your land, where we will rule by the Shariah".

The militant compares the Prime Minister to "arrogant and foolish" predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, and concludes : "You will lose this war, as you lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"But this time, when you lose, your children will inherit your defeat and remember you as the fools who thought they could fight the Islamic State."

The video, which cannot be independently verified, ends with a trailer for a further execution and a brief clip of a young child wearing militant garb.

The child appears to speak in a British accent, though it is possible he has picked up what little he is shown saying from living in Syria. There has been some speculation that he resembles the son of a British woman believed to have travelled to Syria, but this cannot be confirmed.

Middle East analysts have reported a sharp increase in the number of propaganda videos released by Isis after its loss of the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

Margaret Gilmore, from the Royal United Services Institute, said there was an "air of desperation" about the video and added that there was "no reason to say the [killed men] are spies" other than Isis's own claims.

King's College London's expert Shiraz Maher told the BBC the video demonstrates "a certain amount of paranoia" among Isis ranks about alleged spies, but warned that the group remains "very powerful" despite developments in Ramadi.

Jonathan Russell, head of policy at the Quilliam Foundation think tank, said Isis was using the video to "project falsehoods" about the strength of its military and "the Isis brand".

He added that Isis did not "offer anything to potential recruits here in the West".