Paris prosecutor identifies at least 1 Frenchman among extremists in Islamic State video

A 22-year-old French convert to radical Islam appears in a propaganda video showing a beheaded American aid worker and the deaths of Syrian soldiers, a Paris prosecutor said Monday.

PARIS — A 22-year-old French convert to radical Islam appears in a propaganda video showing a beheaded American aid worker and the deaths of Syrian soldiers, a Paris prosecutor said Monday.

Prosecutor Francois Molins identified the man as Maxime Hauchard, one of at least three young Europeans believed among the cold-eyed fighters on the video as the extremist Islamic State group tries to portray itself as an international movement.

Molins said Hauchard has been on the radar of French authorities since he left for Syria in 2013 and another Frenchman could also be among the fighters in the video but it was too early to tell.

President Barack Obama confirmed the slaying of American aid worker Peter Kassig after a U.S. review of the video, which also showed the mass beheadings of more than a dozen Syrian soldiers.

The overwhelming majority of Islamic State fighters are from the Mideast, but the extremist group is trying to cement its claim on an Islamic empire straddling Iraq and Syria. Europe appears to be a fertile ground to find Islamic State supporters, with officials saying thousands of young Europeans have headed off to jihad.

The latest video lingered on the faces of Frenchman Maxime Hauchard and other knife-wielding extremists lined up behind their kneeling victims. Some had distinctly Asian features, while another whose face was hooded had the familiar London accent of the jihadi who also appeared in beheading videos with American hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and with British hostages David Haines and Alan Henning. There were also indications that a Welsh medical student may be the man standing next to Hauchard.

“It’s quite transparent that IS is trying to exaggerate its base of support,” said Charlie Winter, a researcher at the Quilliam Foundation in London. “They are trying to show that Muslims from all over the world are protecting their Syrian brethren and their Iraqi brethren.”

European officials are trying just as furiously to counter that message.

“I call solemnly and seriously on all our citizens, and notably our young people who are the primary target of the terrorist propaganda, to open your eyes to the terrible reality of the actions of Daesh,” said French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. “These are criminals that are building a system of barbarity.”

Hauchard, who is around 22 and from west of Paris, gave an interview to France’s BFM television in July, telling the network he had helped capture Mosul, the Iraqi city whose fall eventually prompted the United States to resume military operations in Iraq.

One father from Wales, Ahmed Muthana, said he thinks he saw his son, 20-year-old Nasser Muthana, in the latest video, and a British researcher confirmed the likeness of the jihadi with the Cardiff medical student.

“It resembles him. I was shown a picture of the video. I cannot confirm it is him, but I think it might be,” Ahmed Muthana told Britain’s Press Association.

Obama denounced the extremist group, which he said “revels in the slaughter of innocents, including Muslims, and is bent only on sowing death and destruction.”

The 26-year-old Kassig, who founded an aid group to help Syrians caught up in their country’s brutal civil war, “was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity,” Obama said in a statement.

“(Our son) lost his life as a result of his love for the Syrian people and his desire to ease their suffering,” the slain hostage’s parents, Ed and Paula Kassig, said in a statement.

With Kassig’s death, the Islamic State group has killed five Westerners it was holding. Unlike previous videos of slain Western hostages, the footage released Sunday did not show the decapitation of Kassig, the moments leading up to his death or threaten to kill any other Western hostages.

The footage released Sunday identified the militants’ location as Dabiq, a town in northern Syria that the Islamic State group uses as the title of its English-language propaganda magazine and where they believe an apocalyptic battle between Muslims and their enemies will occur.

The high-definition video also showed the beheadings of about a dozen men identified as Syrian military officers and pilots, all dressed in blue jumpsuits. The black-clad militant warns that U.S. soldiers will meet a similar fate.

“We say to you, Obama: You claim to have withdrawn from Iraq four years ago,” the militant said. “Here you are: You have not withdrawn. Rather, you hid some of your forces behind your proxies.”

A U.S.-led coalition is targeting the Islamic State group in airstrikes in northern Syria, supporting Western-backed Syrian rebels, Kurdish fighters and the Iraqi military. The U.S. announced that 31 airstrikes had been carried out from Nov. 14-17 against Islamic State group targets.

Kassig, who served in the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, a special operations unit, deployed to Iraq in 2007. After being medically discharged, he returned to the Middle East in 2012 and formed a relief group, Special Emergency Response and Assistance, to aid Syrian refugees.

The terror group still holds other captives, including British photojournalist John Cantlie, who has appeared in several videos delivering statements for the IS, likely under duress, and a 26-year-old American woman captured last year in Syria while working for aid groups. U.S. officials have asked that the woman not be identified out of fears for her safety.

The group’s militants have beheaded and shot dead hundreds of captives, mostly Syrian and Iraqi soldiers, during its sweep across the two countries, and has celebrated its mass killings in extremely graphic videos.

The Islamic State group has declared a self-styled Islamic caliphate in areas under its control, which it governs according to its violent interpretation of Shariah law, including massacring rebellious tribes and selling women and children of religious minorities into slavery.

Just Posted

People hurt in rollover near Red Deer

Occupants of a vehicle that rolled south of Hwy 11A were airlifted… Continue reading

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

Restaurant owner concerned about Gasoline Alley road changes

Nearly 20 trucks were lined up on the service road in front… Continue reading

Preliminary hearings set for two men charged in weapons and drugs bust

A Red Deer man and Sylvan Lake man are facing 80 charges

WATCH: Hypnotizing show at Westerner Days

Hynotist and mentalist Joshua Seth performs three times a day at Westerner Days

WWII hero’s lost Purple Heart returned to his family

NEW YORK — A lost Purple Heart medal has been returned to… Continue reading

California girl, 2, accidentally shot and killed by boy, 4

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Authorities say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and… Continue reading

A hairy issue: Sailors tell the US Navy, ‘We want beards’

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Now that women in the Navy can wear ponytails,… Continue reading

PHOTOS: River Town Saints rock Red Deer

River Town Saints play Westerner Days Friday in Red Deer

PHOTOS: Dogs, horses and more animals at Westerner Days

Westerner Park’s pavilions were filled with animals during Westerner Days

Red Deer residents can’t get enough mini-doughnuts

Mini-doughnuts were the biggest draw to Westerner Days according to a Red… Continue reading

Four-car crash, including RCMP vehicle, on Highway 2

Two sheriff vehicles were also involved in the collision

Divers hunt for 4 after Missouri duck boat sinks, killing 13

BRANSON, Mo. — Divers are searching Friday for four people still missing… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month