An Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate group yesterday claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a Frenchman in an area to the east of Algiers, calling on the French President Francois Hollande to halt his country’s military campaign against the radical organisation in Iraq.
The Jund Al-Khilafah (Caliphate Soldiers) group said in a video posted to its website yesterday that it had abducted Frenchman Herve Gourdel on Sunday in retaliation for France’s intervention in Iraq.
Gourdel appeared squatting between two masked men who were holding rifles.
The video showed one of the men saying: “We are Jund Al-Khilafah in the land of Algeria. We operate under the command of our Caliph, Emir Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. We give French President Francois Hollande 24 hours to halt his country’s criminal aggression against Islamic State or we will slaughter Herve Gourdel.”
“If you want to preserve Gourdel’s life, a formal statement must be issued ending your aggression against the Islamic State,” the man added.
Later, the French hostage is seen addressing the French president saying: “Mr President Hollande, I am Herve Gourdel. I was born in France in 1959. I arrived in Algeria on September 20. I was kidnapped by the Algerian Jund Al-Khilafah militant group on Sunday. This group is asking you not to intervene in Iraq…. I appeal to you, Mr President, do whatever you can to get me out of this situation.”
The French presidency issued a statement saying that Hollande has telephoned Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal however it did not elaborate on what was discussed.
The statement pointed out that “France and Algeria are cooperating on all levels to find and free the French hostage.”
“We are in contact with the Algerian authorities which are providing us full support.”
The Jund al- Khilafah organization announced last week that it had defected from the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb organization and swear allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, accusing al-Qaeda of deviating from the right path.
The Emir of the central region of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abu Khaled Suleiman, whose real name is Kore Abdelmalek announced in a statement published by jihadist sites his leadership of the new jihadist faction.
France announced Friday, the start of its air strikes against Islamic State sites in Iraq.