A French citizen has become the fifth person to be abducted and threatened with execution by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS.)
The Algerian “Soldiers of the Caliphate” announced Tuesday they would execute Hervé Gourdel in 24 hours if France does withdraw from the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS. The group is called Jund al-Khilafah in Arabic and split from Al Qaeda’s North African branch, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) according to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news network. Its members swore loyalty to ISIS earlier this month.
The group announced its plans in a video uploaded to the internet in which Gourdel, age 55, is seen seated between two masked, armed men. “We, the Caliphate Soldiers in Algeria, in compliance with the order of our leader Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi … give Hollande, president of the criminal French state, 24 hours to cease its hostility against the Islamic State, otherwise the fate of his citizen will be slaughter. To save his life, you must officially announce the end of your hostility against the Islamic State,” a speaker on the video said.
Addressing French President Francois Hollande directly, Gourdel said in the video, “This armed group has asked me to demand that you do not intervene in Iraq. They are holding me hostage. I beg you, Monsieur Président, to do all in your power to get me out of this bad situation. I thank you.”
The video has been confirmed to be authentic by the French government, which said it was doing everything possible to track down Gourdel, a resident of Nice working as a mountain guide. He was in Algeria as a tourist, though, when he was kidnapped, traveling in a car in the region of Tziz Ouzou with two local Algerian guides when the vehicle was stopped by a group of masked gunmen. His two guides were set free.
ISIS has beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker in Raqqa, Syria. A second British aid worker, Alan Henning, is so far still alive; both his wife and Muslims around the world have appealed to ISIS to free him, insisting that he has been “peaceful” and a “friend to the Ummah.”