Shortly after an Islamic State propaganda video featuring Kazakh-speaking children called for the slaughter of infidels, a new clip has emerged in which one of those children appears to execute two “spies” with possible Kazakhstan links.
The latest video sparked a denial from Kazakhstan’s intelligence service that the two men are Kazakhstani citizens—even as reporters unearthed possible links.
The video shows the men, speaking in Russian, supposedly confessing to being spies for Russian intelligence. The video then seems to show them being shot by a young boy closely resembling a child who appeared in the previous video. One of the men claimed to hail from Kazakhstan.
There is no independent confirmation that the events took place as depicted in the video, which analysts say could be a montage designed and acted out for propaganda purposes.
It has been “authoritatively established” that two alleged spies are not Kazakhstani citizens, the National Security Committee (known as the KNB) said in a statement. The KNB did not rule out the possibility that they could have roots in the country.
One of the men in the video identifies himself as Zhanbolat Mamayev and states his place of birth as Kazakhstan’s southern Zhambyl Region, where RFE/RL tracked down two people who remembered a boy by that name studying at a school in a village called Oytal (the school’s deputy principal and a former pupil). RFE/RL also located social networking sites that could belong to the same man, linking him to Kazakhstan’s Zhambyl Region.
The second man in the video, who identified himself as Sergey Ashimov, did not claim to be from Kazakhstan, but Russia’s Kommersant newspaper cited an unidentified acquaintance as saying that the man was born in Karaganda in central Kazakhstan but later moved to Russia and took Russian citizenship.
Russia’s Federal Security Service has declined to comment on the men’s claim to have been recruited by Russian intelligence to spy on Islamic State jihadis.
In its statement, Kazakhstan’s security service issued a stern warning against the “dissemination of knowingly false information.” It warned against infringing Article 274 of the Criminal Code, which bans propagation of a “cult of brutality and violence,” punishable by a fine or up to a year in jail, and urged Kazakhstani media to “take a responsible approach” to reprinting material from foreign outlets. The Islamic State videos and many reports on them, including in foreign media, have been blocked in Kazakhstan.
The security service believes around 300 citizens of Kazakhstan are fighting for Islamic State, half of them women, intelligence chief Nurtay Abikayev said in November. Efforts to prevent media reporting on extremist propaganda targeting Kazakhstanis appear designed to dissuade more citizens from joining their ranks.