As reported in Asharq Al Awsat, the Nusra Front (Jabhat al Nusra) claims to have captured five Yemeni officers who were sent to Syria to help the Assad regime’s fight against the uprising in that country. (A Yemeni rights group claims, in contrast, that they were studying at a military academy in Aleppo.) The video shows their passports with biometric information in both Arabic and English, provides the names and ranks of the five captured men, shows pictures of them in military uniforms, and records their “confessions.” For example, one man who identifies himself as Mohammed Abdo Hezam al Meleiky says, “I ask the Yemeni government to cut all logistical and military ties because Bashar al Assad’s regime is a regime that is killing its people and that is what we saw with our own eyes when we came here.”
There is still some question about the authenticity of the recording, but the capture of the five officers is likely to be valid based on the fact that five Yemeni families reported that their sons had disappeared in early September. Their report corroborates what is on the video.
One relevant detail has not made its way into the press reporting. At the beginning of the video, an unidentified voice recites verse 5:33 of the Qur’an in Arabic: “The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.”
Whenever individuals are captured by groups like the Nusra Front, a threat of physical violence is quite obviously implied. But this video makes the threat of violence explicit at the outset (although “exile from the land” is obviously a more appealing option for the captured officers than any of the other listed punishments). It is possible that this introductory remark could be a warning of grisly things that are yet to come.