Herve Gourdel, a French citizen and mountaineer, was beheaded by a group called the Jund al-Khilafah, an Algerian extremist group associated with ISIS. Gourdel’s tragic ordeal began on Sunday when he traveled with two guides up the Djura Djura Mountains in northern Algeria. A guide himself, Gourdel noted on Facebook how he had never hiked these mountains and was looking forward to being the guided not the guider on this trip. The mountains have dozens of caves, rough jagged peaks and steep valleys; it has been a last outpost for these northern extremists for some time.

Algerian Extremists Decapitate Herve Gourdel

Members of the Jund al-Khilafah apprehended the party, but eventually released their fellow Algerians. They held Gourdel hostage due to his French citizenship. France has been a longtime target for Islamic extremists, as French forces have repeatedly attacked al-Qaeda strongholds in Mali; France is also part of NATO’s forces in Afghanistan. On the home front, France itself has banned Muslim face veils in public, and headscarves in state and public buildings.

The extremists initially released a video of the bound Gourdel, threatening to kill him if France did not withdraw from Iraqi airspace within 24 hours. When the French did not comply, another video was released. Gourdel was blindfolded while is masked captors made a statement calling for like-minded thugs to attack France. They then decapitated Gourdel in a fashion similar to the recent deaths of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines.

Not long after the video made its way around the Internet, French President Francois Hollande vehemently condemned the actions of the extremists and further dedicated himself to continuing the war on terror.

“Herve Gourdel is dead because he is the representative of a people—ours—that defends human dignity against barbarity, Hollande said. “My determination is total and this attack only reinforces it. We will continue to fight terrorism everywhere.”

Who Are The Jund al-Khilafah?

Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, are an al-Qaeda offshoot that broke from AQ’s North African branch. There are over 1000 French radicals who have joined or attempted to join Islamic State groups like ISIS over the last several months—larger than any other country in the west. The beheading of Herve Gourdel marks a make shift in the tactics of the northern Algerian extremists. Their tactics have always involved taking hostages, and they have made millions over the last decade ransoming these hostages.

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