Algeria says French climber found, militant group eradicated

Algeria says French climber found, militant group eradicated
Forensics is testing DNA samples to ascertain whether decapitated body is that of French climber. Authorities also claim Jund al-Khilafah is nearly eradicated.
2 min read
17 January, 2015
Herve Gourdel was kidnapped and beheaded in September 2014 AFP]
Algerian authorities have asked Herve Pierre Gourdel's [AR] relatives for DNA samples as they try to identify a headless body found in Ain el-Hammam in eastern Algeria.

The French citizen was abducted last September in Algeria by members of the militant Islamist group Jund al-Khilafah ["Soldiers of the Caliphate"].

"The DNA sample from France was expected to arrive on Friday morning," an Algerian military official, who requested anonymity, told al-Araby al-Jadeed.
     Jund al-Khilafah is facing their inevitable demise.
- Lakhdar Massoudi, security expert

On Thursday, the Ministry of Defence said it had found the body based on information received from a member of the group they had detained.

Jund al-Khilafah group kidnapped the 55-year-old French mountaineering guide on 21 September 2014 while he was hiking in Djurdjura National Park. Footage of his beheading by the group was broadcast three days later.

On 10 October, after an extensive search for the body and Gourdel’s murderers, the army found where he had been kept hostage. He was held in the woods at the top of the Djurdjura mountain range in Tizi Ouzou province. 

Algerian special forces killed the head of the group Khalid Abu Suleiman, also known as Abdelmalek Gouri, on 23 December and other members. Algerian authorities are currently seeking another 15 individuals for involvement in Gourdel's abduction and murder.

Gourdel's murder sparked intensified efforts by the Algerian army in the Kabylie region of northern Algeria to eradicate militant groups. The area has been home to a number of groups affiliated to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) faction for nearly a decade.

Concurrently, Algerian authorities have tried to clamp down on Jund al-Khalifah's financial support network. Lakhdar Massoudi, a security expert and former army general, believes that the group is facing "inevitable demise".

The former general told al-Araby al-Jadeed he doubted Jund al-Khailafah was ever a "serious organisation".

"It is merely pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group (IS, formerly Isis) to take advantage of the media hype surrounding it".

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.