Shocking video has emerged showing a veiled woman being publicly executed by Al Qaeda for alleged adultery – a sentence that has sickened even the Islamic State.
The footage shows the woman, who is wearing a black robe and a hijab (headscarf), being ordered to crouch down on the pavement in front of a crowd of masked jihadi fighters in Syria.
Behind her, a militant declares that she has been convicted by an Islamic court of being an adulterer, condemning her for allegedly running a brothel.
A gunmen then pulls out a pistol and shoots her in the head with a single shot as chants of Allahu Akbar – Arabic for God is greatest – ring out from the baying mob.
The video, which was posted on social media, has drawn condemnation even from rival Islamists, with one ISIS supporter asking ‘which Sharia (Islamic law) is that???’.
The footage, which has not been independently verified, appears to have been filmed by a jihadi fighter on a mobile phone, reportedly from Ma’arrat al-Numan in the north-western city of Idlib.
In the video, a small crowd of masked fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra – an Al Qaeda affiliated group in Syria – gather near the city’s main roundabout.
Most of the men are carrying machine guns and are dressed in thick coats and military fatigues.
The cameraman turns the camera to show the emptiness of the roads, with the traffic halted to allow the execution to be carried out in full public view.
A woman, who activists have suggested is thought to be around 50 years old, is shown standing next to several fighters.
Except for a red cardigan, the lady is seen wearing an all-black robe, covering down to her feet.
She also wears a black hijab (headscarf) which tightly covers all her hair.
Nearby a concrete wall, tagged in graffiti declares the area to be the stronghold of Jabhat al- Nusra (the Nusra Front).
A bearded fighter, wearing body armour stands intimidating behind her, warding off anyone uninvited who gets too close to the woman.
The fighter orders the woman to crouch down on the concrete pavement. Her hands are bound behind her back, leaving her slightly unbalanced as she awaits for her fate.
Several other fighters pull out their mobile phones and also begin to film the shocking scenes.
Another bearded man emerges, possibly a senior religious member of the Al Qaeda-affiliated group.
Wearing a full-length black tunic, the man declares that the woman has been convicted by an Islamic court of being an adulterer.
The woman tries to interrupt the man but he continues, condemning her for allegedly running a brothel in the city. Under Sharia law, the man declares, such crimes are punished by death.
Unlike an Islamic State public execution, the scene appears chaotic, with fighters in the crowd moving around, jostling to get a better position to film the forthcoming execution.
On several occasions the senior Jabhat al-Nusra figure has to pause as chatter from the crowd appears to distract him.
At the end of his speech, the fighter wearing body armour pulls out a pistol and shoots the woman straight in the head with a single shot.
Chants of Allahu Akbar – Arabic for God is greatest – begin to resonate from the crowd, creating a cacophony of praise for the execution.
The video ends with one of the fighters producing a large grey rug and using it to cover the dead woman’s body.
The shocking video has generated a surprising amount of anger from Islamic State supporters, who have condemned the public execution of a woman.
One ISIS supporter, known as Abu Hammad, wrote his disgust about the apparent unIslamic nature of the execution: ‘Jabhat al-Nusra kills a woman by shooting for adultery. Which Shariah is that???’
In response, one Jabhat al-Nusra fan said that the woman was ‘a whore’ and ‘they (Jabhat al-Nusra) can choose how (to) kill her.’
Another Muslim tweeter, who refers to themselves as Abu Khattab Australi, appeared uncomfortable with the killing, tweeting: ‘she doesn’t look the woman pimp type.’
However, Abu Khattab insists the execution is legitimate: ‘if they apply the Sharia then al-hamdulilah (praise be to God)’.
Jabhat al-Nusra first emerged in Syria in January 2012 after claiming responsibility for a spate of suicide attacks in 2011.
Another group, Al Qaeda in Iraq, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced in April 2013 that Jabhat al-Nusra had become part of a merger group called Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)
The merger was rejected by Jabhat al-Nusra’s top commander, Abu Muhammad al-Julani, who continued to pledge his allegiance to Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, leading to fierce clashes between Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS.
In February 2014, Al Qaeda publicly disavowed all relations with ISIS, leaving Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS as bitter enemies.
Whilst there have been signs of occasional joint offensives by Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State, particularly in the Qalamoun mountains, the two groups continue to remain fierce rivals.
Since ISIS seized Mosul and declared the formation of the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra has struggled in their fight for both territory and recruitment against Islamic State.