Hervé Gourdel, a French mountaineer whose life was threatened in a video released by the Caliphate Soldiers, has been killed by the Algerian militant organization. The Caliphate Soldiers have been linked to both al Qaeda and ISIS. Gourdel was 55 and worked as a mountaineering guide, originally hailing from Nice, France.
In yesterday's video, Gourdel says, "President François Hollande, I am Hervé Gourdel, a mountain guide from the French town of Nice." The terrorists then threaten to behead Gourdel if the French government does not stop its military motions against the Islamic State within 24 hours. Today, the execution video was released.
While France denies paying for hostages to be released, it has been discovered that they have paid millions to secure the return of their citizens from al Qaeda and their splinter groups. It is unclear if a ransom payment was attempted in this case, as the Caliphate Soldiers threatened the beheading over military involvement, not cash.
The Wire has provided a description of the execution video, please note that this may be disturbing to some readers.
Unlike other execution videos from ISIS, this video is not in English or strictly in French, thought the subtitles appear both in French and Arabic at the beginning of the video. Gourdel is shown in his regular attire, rather than the orange robes used in other ISIS videos. Behind him stand four terrorists with their faces partially covered, wearing traditional clothing and three of them wear bulletproof vests. Two carry automatic weapons, and the third a cloth, later used to cover Gourdel's mouth. Gourdel’s hands are bound, and one of the militants offers the final speech (spoken in Arabic, rather than in English like other ISIS videos.) Gourdel does not speak throughout the execution video, also unlike the Foley, Sotloff and Haines videos.
After the speech, Gourdel is thrown to the ground from his knees, and it appears that the terrorists beat him before the execution begins. Like the other ISIS videos, this video does not show the actual execution, though the aftermath is far more graphic, reminiscent of the Daniel Pearl al Qaeda execution. After Gourdel is killed, the terrorists place his head upon his side, and then put it into a plastic bag to let the blood collect at the bottom. They then hold it up for some time as it bleeds actively. This particular act is much closer to how al Qaeda handles beheadings than to the beheading videos released by the Islamic State.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.