Editor’s note: This story contains extremely graphic content that may be offensive to some readers.
New video posted on YouTube purports to show the graphic murder – execution style – of three Syrian truck drivers who did nothing more than belong to a minority faith the local Al Qaeda affiliate does not like.
In the video, a small band of Islamist radicals with the Al Qaeda-linked ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) group is seen waving the tractor trailers off the side of an Iraqi road and then proceeds to interrogate the unsuspecting drivers about their prayer habits, trying to discover if they are Sunnis or members of the Alawite minority in Syria.
When they “fail” the Sunni jihadis’ pop roadside quiz, the truck drivers are seated in a line in the median of the road and shot in the back of their heads firing squad style by the self-appointed law enforcers, jury, judge and executioner.
The three truck drivers are shot in the back repeatedly, as chants of Allahu Akbar (Allah is the greatest) are audible in the background.
More than a dozen shots are fired into the men’s bodies, even after it appears they are already dead.
Joshua Landis, who is President of the Syria Studies Association in the U.S. and is Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma tweeted, “Iraqi #ISIS stop three #Alawite truck drivers; ask them how many time they kneel for prayer. Wrong answ. Are executed.”
— Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) August 24, 2013
To learn more about the video, TheBlaze reached out to Jonathan Spyer, senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, who speaks Arabic and has been monitoring the Syrian conflict.
“The men first claim to be Sunni Muslims, and the gunman asks them various questions relating to Sunni religious practice. They are unable to answer the questions and in the end admit that they are Alawites,” Spyer explains of the incident that he says likely took place near Ramadi in Iraq’s Anbar Province.
The perpetrators wear military-type uniforms and black scarves over their heads, holding machine guns, while at least one is fully masked with a large ammunition belt hanging around his neck.
It appears the incident may have been pre-planned for public relations purposes, as the scene shown in the YouTube video was filmed from two separate angles.
“The ISIS organization has emerged as a scourge in rebel controlled areas, carrying out kidnappings and sectarian killings. This is an example of the phenomenon,” says Spyer.
While Christians are at risk daily in countries like Egypt, Syria and Iraq, the video provides an example of the dangers facing other other religious minorities in the crosshairs of Sunni radicals, including practitioners of the Alawite faith, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam of which Syrian President Bashar Assad is a member and protector.
“The jihadi uses the insulting term ‘nusayri’ to describe the Alawites. The jihadis are referred to as the ‘lions of Anbar’ and the incident appears to be taking place in Anbar province, Iraq, probably close to the border with Syria. The men are referred to as ‘nusayri (alawi) spies’ in the title,” Spyer adds.
At the end of the video, one of the ISIS members is seen throwing a burning object at one of the trucks, which begins to burn and smoke.
Here is the video that was posted on YouTube. Warning, it is graphic beginning shortly after the 8:00 minute mark: