Daesh 'child executioner' recognized by French classmates
In the Daesh video the child shoots an Arab-Israeli accused of spying for Israel (File-AFP)
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The young boy seen in a video disseminated by Islamic State earlier this week moments before he purportedly executes an Israeli Arab hostage has reportedly been recognized by classmates in his native France.
According to the AFP news wire service, schoolchildren in the French town of Toulouse say that the boy is their classmate.
“Concerning the formal identification of this person, I cannot tell you anything,” said Jacques Caillaut, the school inspector in Toulouse's Haute-Garonne district. “Children from the Vauquelin College have recognized one of their classmates, but we must remain cautious.”
Caillaut told AFP that the pupils in his district were so shocked by the video that they required professional counseling.
France has launched an investigation into the video, which shows the boy alongside an older ISIS terrorist who speaks fluent French.
French officials are investigating whether the child shown in the video has ties to an al-Qaida-inspired gunman who killed seven people in March 2012, a police source said.
The video shows Muhammad Musallam sitting in a room wearing an orange jumpsuit, talking about how he had been recruited and trained by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad.
It shows Musallam being escorted to a field and shot by a child, described by an older, French-speaking fighter as one of "cubs of the caliphate".
A French police source told Reuters the intelligence service believes the French-speaking fighter was Sabri Essid, the half-brother of Mohamed Merah, who killed three soldiers, a rabbi and three Jewish children before he was shot dead by police.
The source said they were also trying to determine whether the child was Essid's son.
March 11 marks three years to the day since Merah began his 10-day killing spree in the Toulouse region of southwestern France.
The Interior Ministry declined to comment on the video.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in May Merah's sister Souad was likely to have traveled to Syria with her children.
More than 400 French citizens have traveled to fight with militants in Syria and Iraq. More than 100 have returned home after fighting there, according to French officials.