Pakistani authorities and human rights groups are expressing shock and outrage over a widely circulated video showing a young boy beheading a Pakistani man accused of betraying Taleban insurgents. From Islamabad, VOA correspondent Benjamin Sand reports.
The grisly video began making the rounds several days ago, distributed among the sprawling markets and back alleys of Pakistan's isolated tribal areas along the Afghan border.
The video shows a young boy - he appears to be less than 13 years old - standing over an alleged Pakistani militant.
Pro-Jihad and pro-Taleban songs play throughout the roughly edited piece.
The victim, blindfolded and visibly shaking, is surrounded by several men whose faces are hidden behind black masks.
As the older insurgents urge him on the young boy clutches a long knife and grabs his captive by the hair. He says the Pakistani militant was an American spy and will be executed as a lesson for other so-called traitors. He then leans forward and appears to cut through the man's neck as the other insurgents chant God is great.
The video identifies the dead man as Ghulam Nabi, a former insurgent from southern Pakistan accused of helping U.S. forces kill a senior Taleban commander in Afghanistan last December.
The tape appears authentic and the victim's family has confirmed Nabi fought with the Taleban in Afghanistan.
Pro-Taleban militants have released scores of propaganda tapes in recent months including several featuring apparently deadly attacks on international forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But this most recent video stands out, both for the brutal slaying itself and for the executioner's remarkable youth.
From Kabul, United Nations spokesman Adrian Edwards described the video as "deeply disturbing."
"I think on a number of fronts this really represents a new low in Jihadist propaganda," he said.
Analysts believe the Taleban's intention with such videos is to strengthen anti-American feeling among tribal groups, by showing what happens to those who allegedly work with American forces.
The impact in Pakistan, however, is focused on the youth of the person wielding the knife, as much as on the beheading itself.
A senior Pakistani official described the video as a shocking example of the Taleban's brutality.