ISIS Child Executioner Is French National, Official Reveals

ISIS Mossad Syria Child
The child, believed to be a French national, was shown in the video shooting dead an alleged Mossad spy. SITE Intelligence

The child killer in an ISIS propaganda video released yesterday, which showed the killing of a Palestinian hostage, has been identified as a French national, an official has revealed.

The video showed Arab-Israeli citizen Muhammad Musallam, 19, in an orange jumpsuit, speaking of his recruitment by Mossad, which Israeli officials have since denied, in an eight-minute-long 'confession' before he is taken to a field where he is shot in the head by the boy and then shot a number of times after his death.

A French official, speaking on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press, confirmed that the child and the man speaking with a southern French accent in the video are both French nationals. The official added that the man may be linked to Mohammed Merah, the attacker who killed seven people - three small children, three unarmed soldiers and a rabbi - in two 2012 attacks in the southern French city of Toulouse.

The Frenchman standing next to the boy calls him one of the "cubs of the caliphate". The boy appears to be aged around 12 years old but no further information has been released him or how he travelled to Syria. It is also unconfirmed if the French child and the adult shown in the video are related.

A spokesman for the French government called the killing "dreadful" but did not elaborate on the nationalities of both jihadis.

Unlike adult executioners used by ISIS in previous hostage videos, such as 'Jihadi John', in this latest video the child had his face uncovered. "I think they probably did that to hammer home how young the perpetrator is," says Max Abrahms, professor of political science at Northwestern University and member at the Council of Foreign Relations.

"I'm much more shocked by the age of the perpetrator than the nationality," he adds. "In general, people seem to be repulsed by violence, but especially gruesome violence perpetrated by a child. I don't think images like that make the group look scary, it makes the group look crazy and evil."

The family of Musallam have denied that their son was a Mossad spy and instead say he had been "brainwashed" by the terror group. "We saw his face and he was sitting with his friend. He said he would be receiving a lot of money from ISIS and that they were going to find him a house and pay for his marriage," said his mother, Hind.

"I'm sure they brainwashed him. He's just a kid. He doesn't know better…They did not give me the chance to hug him or smell him or say goodbye. What kind of people are those. They are the devil."

Figures released by the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) in January show that France has the highest number of jihadis who have travelled to fight for extremist groups in Iraq and Syria since the onset of the Syrian Civil War in March 2011.