Apart from a 22-year-old from Normandy already identified amongst the killers in a Islamic State video transmitted on Sunday (above right), a second French national may soon be implicated by French authorities in the decapitation of prisoners
The case of Maxime Hauchard – the 22-year-old man from Le Bosc-Roger-en-Roumois in the Eure department in Upper Normandy who is believed to be one of the ISIS executioners in Sunday’s propaganda video – is “far from being an isolated case”. During a press conference this evening (Monday, 17.11.14), the state prosecutor for Paris François Molins hinted clearly at the “possible” presence in these images of a “second French national” who “could be implicated”.
“Taking account points of resemblance, it may well be a young convert (to Islam) born in 1992 and who left to join the ranks of the Islamic State in August 2013,” said the Procureur de la République de Paris to assembled journalists. The young man, whom he didn’t identify, “is the subject of an arrest warrant” within the context of a judicial case opened in October 2013.
French justice has now launched an enquiry into killings by and organised in the context of a terrorist operation, “targeting the activities of two French nationals”: Maxime Hauchard and this second 22-year-old suspect. The video transmitted on Sunday shows the decapitation of Peter Kassig (who had taken the name of Abdul Rahman having converted to Islam) and that of 18 other men presented as Syrian soldiers. The video shows the same number of ISIS paramilitaries brandishing knives before placing their victims on the ground and decapitating them simultaneously.
For the first time, the ISIS combatants appear without their faces covered. Some of them are of Asiatic or European appearance.
Hauchard reportedly converted to Islam at the age of 17. He was recognised from the mass execution video by French journalist David Thomson. The young Norman operated under the nom-de-guerre Abu Abdallah el-Faransi. Last July, he gave an interview to BFMTV (see video below) in which he described his training in Syria as being “like a holiday.”
France appears to be a fertile ground for converts to extreme Jihadist groups. It’s something that is being felt in a country with the largest Muslim population in Europe. In a recent poll in Le Figaro newspaper, 95% of respondents said that returning Jihadists should be stripped of their French nationality when asked.