Hamas police officers found the body of Italian Vittorio ("Victor") Arrigoni on Friday in the Gaza Strip, only hours after an al Qaeda-allied group opposed to Hamas announced that they'd kidnapped the 36-year-old pro-Palestinian activist and journalist. The group, Tawhid and Jihad, released a YouTube video on Thursday showing a bound and blindfolded man identified as Arrigoni and threatening to kill Arrigoni by Friday at 5 pm if Hamas didn't release the group's leader, Hesham al-Saeedni, according to CNN. The video also called Italy an "infidel nation whose armies are still present in Muslim lands."
In a statement, the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement said Arrigoni (pictured above in Gaza in 2008) had worked with the organization on "monitoring human rights violations by Israel" and "supporting the Palestinian popular resistance against the Israeli occupation" adding that he'd been granted honorary citizenship for his efforts on behalf of the Palestinian people. Arrigoni came to Gaza on a boat with other activists to protest a blockade imposed by Israel on the territory.
The New York Times notes that the incident marks the first kidnapping of a foreigner in Gaza since Hamas took control of the Palestinian territory in 2007, and will likely embarrass the militant Islamist group, which "has prided itself on restoring security and ending years of armed chaos in Gaza." Hamas, which Israel, the U.S., and the E.U. consider a terrorist organization, has tried to suppress smaller, more radical Islamic groups in Gaza since coming to power, according to the Times.
Over on Twitter, NPR's Andy Carvin has been capturing reaction to Arrigoni's death. The International Solidarity Movement has also posted a video in which Arrigoni explains why he came to Gaza: