ISIL-linked group threatens to kill French hostage in Algeria
ALGIERS - Agence France-Presse
Journalists wait, on September 22, 2014 in Nice, southeastern France, in front the house called Villa Marie Joseph where French hostage Hervé Pierre Gourde lives. An Algerian militant group said earlier it has kidnapped a Frenchman and threatened to execute him unless Paris halts air strikes on ISIL jihadists in Iraq, in a YouTube video posted Sept. 22. AFP PhotoAn Algerian group linked to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadists on Sept. 22 claimed the kidnapping of a French national and threatened to kill the hostage within 24 hours unless Paris halts air strikes on the ISIL in Iraq.
Jund al-Khilifa (Soldiers of the Caliphate) posted a video showing the white-haired and bespectacled hostage, Herve Pierre Gourdel, squatting on the ground flanked by two hooded men clutching Kalashnikov assault rifles.
The footage was confirmed as authentic by the French government, and came after ISIL issued a statement urging Muslims to kill Westerners whose nations have joined a campaign to battle the jihadist group.
The United States has built a broad coalition of more than 50 nations to fight the ISIL organisation, after the jihadists seized large parts of Syria and Iraq and committed widespread atrocities including beheadings and crucifixions.
The jihadists are now advancing on a key border town in northern Syria, sending 130,000 terrified residents fleeing to Turkey.
In a statement posted online, ISIL spokesman Abu Mohamed al-Adnani said Muslims should seek out and kill Westerners whose countries have joined the coalition, in particular Americans and the French.
"If you can kill a disbelieving American or European... including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him," he said.
France sought to reassure its citizens with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve saying: "France is not afraid... France is prepared to respond to their threat."
Jund al-Khilifa, which has pledged allegiance to ISIL, raised the pressure on Paris with a threat to kill hostage Gourdel within a day.
The group said it had snatched the man in a mountainous region of eastern Algeria where al-Qaeda is active and that it was responding to the ISIL call to target citizens of the coalition.
"The threats made by this group are extremely grave and demonstrate the extreme cruelty of (the ISIL group) and all those associated with it," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
France is the only country so far to have joined the U.S. air strikes against the ISIL in Iraq, mounting its first aerial assault against the militants on Sept. 19.