Brandishing a pistol, seated on a couch in front of an ornate Arabic script backdrop, opening his statement with “Alhamdulallah," or "praise to Allah," and closing with “Allahu Akbar,” the video posted to YouTube last week has all the hallmarks of a videotaped terrorist statement.
But this time, it was a teenage boy imitating the terrorists as he pleaded for good grades, with the help of what was most likely a toy gun.
According to Russia Today, the video was the latest example of “a new form of entertainment” in the Russian republic of Dagestan: making threatening videos to express demands.
Police told Russia Today that they don’t believe the videos pose any danger and liken them instead to a joke.
“However, many are wondering why young children – who are known to copy the actions of adults – are taking part in such violent role play,” Russia Today questioned.
In the video below, the unidentified boy reportedly was demanding that good grades - only A's – be recorded in his school record. He gave a five-day deadline for the marks to be entered.
“If you don’t do that, I’ll first kill Khalimat and Nurmagomed and then come at you. Insha'Allah (If God is willing),” the boy said according to translation provided by RT.
In another video that has been removed from YouTube, a second child held what was likely a toy machine gun. Brandishing the gun apparently to threaten, he demanded that a boy named Mohammed who previously beat him up now pay him 2 million rubles (about $60,000) and his motorcycle. If he did not pay within five days, the boy said Mohammed’s “son and a couple of other people” would be killed.
“It’s so painful, such a shame that children take part in them (the videos). But it’s a mistake of adults who set an example,” Dagestani police officer Indira Aganyeva said according to RT.
Another local paper reported that police are looking for those who made the recordings.
“Children are just like litmus paper. They absorb all the bad and good things happening in society,” Fatima Ubaidatova of the Dagestan Interior Ministry press service told the newspaper Komsomolskaya.
If the children are younger than 14, their parents could be slapped with a fine, she said.
“Sending videos on USB flash drives is a common practice among illegal armed groups in Dagestan. Gunmen typically send footage to businessmen and authorities, threatening to kill them and their relatives unless they give money to jihad,” RT reported.
The family of suspected Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev lived for a while in Dagestan. After the family immigrated to the U.S., the older brother Tamerlan was reported to have visited Dagestan where he regularly attended services at a radical mosque.
Reuters last week reported that the number of Russians from the North Caucasus who have traveled to Syria to join Al Qaeda-linked rebels increased dramatically this year.
Quoting Russian federal security service numbers, Reuters reported that in June, 200 Russians were fighting alongside jihadi rebels in Syria, while in September the number of Russian fighters had risen to 400.
Russian security officials are particularly concerned as they view the rebels as potential terrorists who could threaten the Olympic Games in Sochi and as future insurgents in Dagestan.
"They will come back, and that poses a huge threat," FSB deputy director Sergei Smirnov said in September.
(H/T: Jihad Watch)