Islamist militants in Algeria have purportedly responded to call from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to target Westerners by kidnapping a French mountain guide and threatening to behead him unless France halts its actions against ISIS.
In a new video that recently appeared online, two masked and armed militants are seen with a man who describes himself as a 55-year-old Nice native named Herve Gourdel.
“We are the soldiers of the Islamic State [ISIS] in Algeria responding to the message of [ISIS leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi and his spokesperson,” one of the militants says. “We give [French President Francois] Hollande, the head of the French criminal government, 24 hours to stop its offensive against the Islamic State, otherwise this hostage, French national Herve Gourdel, will be beheaded.”
The man identified as Gourdel then speaks to the camera, saying he is a mountain guide who arrived in Algeria on Saturday and was taken “yesterday” by the militants.
“They are holding me hostage,” Gourdel says. “I implore you, Mr. President, to do everything you can to get me out of this ordeal.”
The French Foreign Ministry released a statement today acknowledging that a French national had been kidnapped Sunday in Algeria, but said the kidnapping had not yet been claimed.
“Every measure is being expanded to find our compatriot,” the statement said. “The services of the state are mobilized and no hypothesis has been ruled out.”
Gourdel was apparently taken within hours of an ISIS spokesperson releasing an audio message to its supporters around the world urging them to target Westerners from countries in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, "especially the spiteful and filthy French."
Last week Hollande announced his nation would join the campaign in Iraq by launching airstrikes against ISIS targets. The U.S. has launched nearly 200 airstrikes against ISIS in recent weeks.