French Citizen Beheaded by Algerian Jihadist Group in Retaliation for Airstrikes on ISIS

A man who identified himself as Herve Gourdel (C) speaks as he sits in between two masked armed gunmen in this still image taken from video which was published on the Internet on September 22, 2014.
A man who identified himself as Herve Gourdel (C) speaks as he sits in between two masked armed gunmen in this still image taken from video which was published on the Internet on September 22, 2014. | (Photo: REUTERS/The Caliphate Soldiers via Reuters TV)

A French citizen who was kidnapped on Sunday has been beheaded by a jihadist group in Algeria, apparently in retaliation for France launching airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS targets.

"Our values are at stake," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Wednesday after hearing about the video, but would not comment further at the time, The Association Press reported.

Herve Gourdel, a 55-year-old mountaineering guide from Nice, was captured by Islamic militants in the mountains of northern Algeria. The Jund al-Khilafah terror group announced later that Gourdel would be killed within 24 hours unless France ends its airstrikes.

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France and the U.S. have been hitting ISIS targets in Iraq, seeking to aid the Kurdish and Iraqi governments in their battle against the terror group. ISIS has captured a number of cities across the region, including some in Syria, and has issued a rallying call for Islamic militant groups.

Terrorism watchdog SITE Intelligence Group distributed a video Wednesday by the Algerian group, titled "A message of blood for the French government," that announced Gourdel's death.

BBC News noted that Jund al-Khilafa, which translates to "Soldiers of the Caliphate," pledged allegiance to ISIS earlier in September. The group was previously part of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and is now active across the North and parts of West Africa.

French President Francois Hollande had said on Tuesday regarding the threats: "As grave as this situation is, we will not give into any blackmail, any pressure, any ultimatum no matter how odious, how despicable."

ISIS has released a number of videos showing beheadings of westerners, including two of American journalists and one of a British aid worker. The Islamic militants have blamed the U.S. and the U.K. for the beheadings, saying that the countries should have stayed out of Iraq.

There have been reports of other militant groups, like Boko Haram in Nigeria, also joining ISIS' cause, and reports of western countries being infiltrated by jihadists who want to carry out the terror group's plans oversees.

Last week over 800 police officers were involved in the biggest counter-terrorism raid in Australian history, where 15 people allegedly connected to ISIS were arrested. The suspects are believed to have been planning to kidnap people in Brisbane and Sydney and have them executed on camera.

Obama meanwhile spoke out against ISIS during a United Nations speech on Wednesday, calling for broad international support to confront the terror group.

The president asked the nations of the world to "reject the cancer of violent extremism," and said that the first step is defeating ISIS, or the Islamic State as it is also known.

"The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death," Obama said, and added that over 40 nations have offered to join the collation against terror. "Today, I ask the world to join in this effort."

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