French wilderness guide Herve Gourdel was beheaded by Algerian caliphate mufti

Hugh Fitzgerald
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The man who beheaded the wilderness guide Herve Gourdel was the mufti of Jund Al-Khalifah. That is, he was considered well-versed in Shariah.

It’s the most important item in the report on terrorists recently killed by the Algerian army.

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Al Arabiya

Algerian soldiers killed five Islamist gunmen Saturday not far from where the suspected hideout of extremists who beheaded a French hostage was destroyed two days earlier, the defence ministry said.

“A detachment of soldiers on Saturday eliminated five terrorists in the Mount Mokrani area,” a statement said.

Two Kalashnikov assault rifles, a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition were recovered, the ministry said.

On Thursday, the army announced it had destroyed a camp in the Djurdjura mountains, 150 kilometres southeast of the capital, believed to have been used by militants who beheaded 55-year-old French hiker Herve Gourdel last month.

Gourdel was kidnapped on September 21 by Jund al-Khilifa, or “Soldiers of the Caliphate,” which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militant group.

El-Watan daily on Saturday named the man suspected of murdering Gourdel as Jund al-Khilifa mufti, or religious leader, Bachir Kherza but gave no source.

Kherza, in his fifties and from Algiers, is a veteran of Islamist armed groups of the 1990s civil war in which 200,000 people died.

The army says close to 80 Islamist militants have been killed this year in Algeria.

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