A French tourist held captive in North Africa by a group aligned with the Islamic State is seen beheaded in a video circulated Wednesday, according to SITE Intelligence, which tracks jihadi groups.
The Frenchman – Herve Gourdel, a 55-year-old mountaineering guide from Nice – was abducted in Algeria on Sunday by the terrorist group, known as Jund al-Khilafah. Gourdel was visiting Algeria to go hiking in its northern mountains and had arrived only the day before.
The terrorist group issued a statement after his abduction, saying that it was following the guidance of the Islamic State, which has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq and has called on its sympathizers to strike Westerners – especially the French – wherever they can.
In the statement, the Algerian group demanded that President Francois Hollande of France cease his country’s intervention in Syria within 24 hours or face seeing Gourdel killed.
In the video, Gourdel is shown kneeling before four armed captors with his hands bound behind his back. His bony shoulders poke forward, and he stares at the ground as his captors read a script announcing that he would be killed. They then wrestle him to the ground and place the knife at his throat. The video then cuts to an image of his decapitated body, and shows the captors holding his severed head.
The murder of Gourdel signals that the Islamic State’s practice of beheading Western captives for propaganda purposes has spread beyond the area it controls in Syria. Numerous smaller factions in the Middle East and elsewhere have pledged allegiance to the group.
Separately, a group in the Philippines, Abu Sayyaf, has announced that it is holding two German citizens and is threatening to kill them if Germany does not back out of the intervention in Syria, according to a transcript provided by SITE.