- WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Islamist group live-tweeted punishment of a thief in northern Syria
- Photos were posted online showing a man having his hand chopped off
- Group claimed the man requested the punishment to ‘cleanse him of sin’
A group of Syrian Islamist militants posted a series of photographs of a man having his hand cut off in a live-update on Twitter.
The live-feed of the amputation, which was carried out in the northern town of Maskanah, near Aleppo, was re-tweeted by several Jihadi social media channels.
The group responsible, militant organisation ISIS – Islamist State in Iraq and Syria – claimed the man, an alleged thief, had requested to be punished in this way.
Several Jihadi accounts said the ‘thief’ had admitted his crimes ‘and also asked that his hand be cut off to cleanse his sins’.
It was not immediately possible to verify the accounts, and the photographs and tweets have now been removed from Twitter.
One photo showed a blindfolded man with his hand being held down on a table while surrounded by a large group of militant rebels.
A man dressed in a traditional white robe stands in front of the table, and on the right side is a man in a black balaclava holding a large sword.
A later photo showed the man with his hand severed, the limb resting on the bloodied table.
The Twitter account that posted the images has now been suspended from the social networking site.
The punishment was inflicted by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a pro-Al Qaeda Jihadist group that many fear is taking an iron grip over parts of Syria.
The group was formed in April 2013 and grew out of Al Qaeda’s affiliate organisation in Iraq, but it was formally disowned by the central organisation on February 3 for being too extreme.
One of its leaders, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been deemed Middle East’s most-wanted by the Iraqi interior ministry after a series of terrorist attacks which won him the moniker ‘The Ghost’.
Born from ISI (Islamic State in Iraq), it fought U.S. troops in the country before the end of the Iraq war in 2011.
It has since become one of the main Jihadist groups fighting government forces in Syria and is mainly composed of foreign fighters.
Though widely considered the most radical group fighting President Bashar al-Assad, it is also engaged in a violent struggle with rival Islamist rebels.
ISIS controls much of rebel-held Syria in the north, including the town of Azaz, which was seized from the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) on 18 September.
The city of Raqqa, with a community of Christians, was the first provincial capital to be occupied by the group last year.
Waging war on Christianity, ISIS demanded any non-Muslims to pay a levy in gold of 14g and curb displays of their faith or face death – although less than one per cent of Raqqa’s 300,000 inhabitants are Christian.
In a statement, the group claimed to have met Christian leaders and offered them three choices: convert to Islam, accept the conditions, or face death.
It stated: ‘If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword.’
A group of 20 Christian leaders chose to accept the new rules, ISIS claim.
Many Christians fled after ISIS started attacking and burning churches.
Under a new set of brutal rules outlined by ISIS, they are banned from owning weapons and from selling pork or wine to Muslims or drinking wine in public.
Punishments will also be issued to those who renovate churches, display crosses or other religious symbols, ring church bells or pray in public.
It is believed ISIS is trying to implement an extreme interpretation of Islamic law.
The group has been operating independently of other Jihadist groups such as the Nusra Front and has had a tense relationship with other rebels in Syria.
In July, a commander of the FSA was reportedly shot dead by ISIS fighters in the coastal province of Lattakia.
There were also reports of deadly clashes between the two groups in the north-western province of Idlib.
Late last year, reports started to emerge of friction with other Islamists.
In November 2013, ISIS was accused of killing a prominent member of the Syrian Islamist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham.
In the most recent sign of continuing tension, ISIS suffered losses in two days of fighting against an alliance of other rebel forces in Aleppo and Idlib provinces.
More than 2,000 people are believed to have been killed since Western-backed and Islamist groups attacked ISIS-occupied cities at the start of this year.
RISE OF MILITANT GROUP DEEMED TOO EXTREME BY AL-QAEDA
ISIS first formed during the Iraq war in 2004, comprised of numerous groups of the Sunni faith.
It tried and failed to establish a Sunni state capital in the country, but held a strong presence in the most important battle grounds – including Baghdad and Salah ad Din – throughout the war.
The extremist group is believed to be responsible for killing thousands of Iraqis, including members of the government.
The group lost strength but by 2012 was gathering momentum after moving into Syria. Reports claim there are more than 2,500 ISIS members.
On February 3, 2014, al Qaeda issued a formal statement distancing themselves from the group.