IS issues threat to Russia over Assad backing
Vladimir Putin was today directly and personally threatened by the Islamic State because of his close ties to Syrian leader Bashar Hafez al-Assad.
The chilling warning, delivered by a member of the terror group, puts the Kremlim leader on the same side as the West in holding back Muslim extremism.
But at the same time, he remains at loggerheads with the U.S. and Europe in the worst crisis since the Cold War.
In a video on Al-Arabiya TV channel, an IS rebel sits in the cockpit of a captured Russian-made fighter aircraft in the Tabak area of the Syrian province of Rakka.
A second fighter warns: 'This message is addressed to you, oh Vladimir Putin. These are your aircraft which you sent to Bashar, and with the help of Allah we will send them back to you.
'Remember this. And with the permission of Allah we will liberate Chechnya and all the Caucasus.
"The Islamic State exists and it will exist and it will expand with the help of Allah. Your throne is already shaking. It is in danger and it will collapse when we get to you. We are on the way with Allah's permission.'
The threatening footage comes with Russian subtitles, but the voice of a Russian speaker can be heard too.
In the sequence, in which the Islamic warriors clamber over the Sukhoi fighter, they also threaten the Syrian dictator, branding him a 'pig' and vowing to 'use these aircraft to get to you'.
The message of hate to Putin follows his strong support for Assad, without which he is likely to have been toppled.
Putin is also loathed by Islamic extremists and terror groups for crushing attempts to set up an Islamic state in Chechnya, and in other mainly Muslim regions of southern Russia such as Dagestan.
The Russian leader has long argued that the West has missed the danger of such extremist groups while criticising him for human rights abuses in his clampdown.
The video was released amid a warning to Putin that far from NATO being his biggest threat - as Russian propaganda is daily arguing - the real danger to him is from Muslim extremism on his southern flank.
This was highlighted today in The Moscow Times newspaper by Judy Dempsey, senior associate and editor-in-chief of Strategic Europe at Carnegie Europe.
'Outgoing NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has repeatedly spoken about an "arc of instability" around Europe,' she wrote.
'He has repeatedly warned Russia that it would suffer the consequences after Putin's decision in March to invade and then annex Crimea, Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine and Putin's call for immediate talks on "statehood" of southern and eastern Ukraine, or Novorossiya.
'But it is clear that so far Western sanctions and NATO's threats and rhetoric are no deterrence when it comes to thwarting Putin's ambitions.
'What could deter him is his own combustible southern flank and Islamic State, which Russia would be very unwise to ignore.
'It is these threats that are far, far more dangerous to Russia than NATO's limited intentions in Poland and the Baltic states.
'These threats are also more dangerous than the EU, whose openness has hugely profited Russian companies and ordinary Russian citizens.
'If Putin thinks NATO and the EU are his big threats, competitors and enemies, he hasn't seen anything yet.'