MS Risk Blog

ISIS supporters carry out actions in Algeria, Egypt 22 September

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French national Herve Gourdel, 55, has been kidnapped by a militant group in Tizi Ouzou, eastern Algeria. Gourdel, a mountain guide, was travelling in a vehicle with Algerian nationals when he was abducted in the village of Ait Ouabane, and taken into a mountainous region. A week prior to the kidnapping, the abductors, a group calling themselves Jund al-Khilifa (Caliphate Soldiers) announced their split from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and swore allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/Daaesh). Shortly following the French ministry’s announcement of Gourdel’s kidnapping, Caliphate Soldiers released a four-minute video entitled, “A message from the Caliphate Soldiers in Algeria to the dog Hollande.” In the video, a spokesman declares, “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.” Gourdel, who was seated between to masked gunmen, was directed to read a statement to Hollande: “I am in the hands of Jund al-Khilifa, an Algerian armed group. This armed group is asking me to ask you to not intervene in Iraq. They are holding me as a hostage and I ask you Mr. President to do everything to get me out of this bad situation. I thank you.” The video has been authenticated by the French Foreign Ministry. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, in New York for UN General Assembly, stated, “We will do everything we can to liberate hostages, but a terrorist group cannot change France’s position.” A statement from President Hollande said that France and Algeria are cooperating at all levels to find and free Gourdel. Meanwhile, following France’s first air raids over ISIS targets in Syria on Friday, at least 30 French embassies across the Middle East and Africa raised have their threat levels. The kidnapping occurred a day after a 42 minute ‘call-to-arms’ video was released by ISIS. In the video, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani called upon fighters to attack or kill citizens of countries taking part in the US-led anti-ISIS coalition: “If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him.” In the 21 September video, Adnani also called upon insurgents in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to increase the number of attacks against Egyptian security forces and to continue beheadings. Adnani says, “Rig the roads with explosives for them. Attack their bases. Raid their homes. Cut off their heads. Do not let them feel secure.” The statement underscores the recent intelligence which suggests that ISIS ISIS militants are developing stronger ties in the Sinai region, and raises fears that the group is spreading its ties across North Africa. Sinai-based terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis pledged allegiance ISIS earlier this year, and it is known that ISIS, while not supplying the group with weapons or personnel, has provided advice on how to target Egyptians. Hours before the announcement, terrorist group Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt) claimed responsibility for a bomb blast near the Foreign Ministry in Cairo on Sunday that killed two senior police officers and wounded several other policemen. Ajnad Misr stated they used an explosive device on “officers of the criminal apparatus,” and added that the attacks would not stop until “the ruling tyrants fall and God’s sharia is established.” ISIS has notoriously been conducting gruesome beheadings as a form of ‘terrorism as theatre’ propaganda. The group released has released three videos which showed the beheadings of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines. In addition, it is known that they have also beheaded at least two Lebanese soldiers. They have recently threatened to behead a fourth hostage. It is believed that there are fewer than 10 hostages still held by ISIS.