(NEWSER) -  In the minutes before his execution by an ISIS militant in Syria, Chechen Magomed Khasiev confessed to being a spy recruited by Russian intelligence agency Federal Security Service—something Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov quickly denied.

But many people who knew the 23-year-old say he "seemed to live a double life," per Reuters, with connections to Muslim groups as well as Russian security. Born Yevgeny Yudin to a non-Muslim family in Chechnya, Khasiev lived for a time in an orphanage. "He was soft as a kitten," a former orphanage head says. He was later adopted by a Chechen family and took the family name, becoming Magomed Khasiev (he had earlier given himself the Muslim first name).

Sources say he was friends with a cop, associated with non-Muslims, and did not appear to be a radical. 

Photo: Getty Images

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