ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian Islamist militants who kidnapped and beheaded French hostage Herve Gourdel a week ago released a new video statement on Tuesday showing around 30 fighters reaffirming their allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq.
In the undated recording released on jihadi social media, the Jund al-Khilifa or Caliphate Soldiers militant group shows one Algerian commander speaking to the small group of men, some carrying automatic rifles, in a densely wooded area.
Another man with what sounds like a Mauritanian accent reads out a poem with others holding a black jihadi flag. They make no mention of the French hostage, who Caliphate Soldiers showed being killed in a previous recording.
“We reiterate our allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” one commander said, referring to the Islamic State insurgent leader who has set himself up as “Caliph” of the area his fighters have captured in Iraq and Syria. “We will never disobey him.”
In the low-key recording, the Caliphate Soldiers make no threats or reference to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the al Qaeda affiliate from which they say they split to side with Islamic State.
Gourdel, a mountain guide on holidays in Algeria, was abducted and decapitated a week ago by the militants who said the killing was punishment for French military intervention against Islamic State in Iraq.
The kidnapping occurred after Islamic State urged the group’s followers to attack citizens of the United States, France and other countries that joined the coalition to destroy the ultra-radical Islamist movement.
The Caliphate Soldiers’ self-declared commander is a former head of AQIM’s central region who began his militant career in Algeria in the 1990s, during a war pitting the government against Islamist fighters which killed 200,000 people.
Reporting by Patrick Markey and Lamine Chikhi, editing by Mark Heinrich