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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Egypt’s ISIS affiliated group claims to kill Croatian hostage

Croatian hostage Tomislav Salopek abducted by ISIS in Egypt
(Image: International Business Times)
Egypt’s ISIS affiliated group Vilayat Sinai, based in Northern Sinai, claims to kill Croatian hostage Tomislav Salopek, who was abducted in Cairo on 22 July and was held captive since that time.

One of the strongest and deadliest Egyptian jihadist group Ansar Beyt Al-Maqdis, that pledged its allegiance to ISIS in November this year and names itself Vilayat Sinai (Sinai Province) has released on Wednesday, 12 August, pictures of their Croatian hostage who lays beheaded somewhere in the desert. The images were circulated in the ISIS affiliated Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The images showed the desert and the black ISIS flag standing in the sand. The body of a man who the jihadists claim is Croatian hostage Tomislav Salopek lays on the sand, with its decapitated head on the body’s back. The images contained the message of ISIS: “The Croatian captive has been killed because his country participated in the war against Islamic State. The deadline has passed, and the Egyptian government as well as his own government abandoned him”. The images also contained screenshots of the media headlines like “Croatia supports Egypt’s war on terrorism”.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stated that Egyptian government cannot currently confirm authenticity of the released images, thus it cannot confirm the death of the Croatian citizen Tomislav Salopek. Egyptian authorities stated they are investigating the case and do their best to find the culprits.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic who visited Egypt recently also stated that Croatian government cannot confirm the death of Tomislav Salopek and investigates the images released by the ISIS affiliated group on Wednesday. He stated that they fear the worst, but if there is still a tiny hope, the government will work on releasing the hostage.

Tomislav Salopek, who worked in Cairo, in French company CGG
(Image: Tomislav's Facebook account)
Tomislav Salopek, a 31 year old married Croatian, father of two children, worked in Cairo, in the French oil company CGG. He was not new to the Middle Eastern countries, as he had already experience of working in this region. On 22 July Tomislav Salopek was abducted by the unknown armed men in Western Cairo, while he was on his way to work. Since that time Tomislav Salopek was missing, until ISIS released its video last week showing captured Croatian man kneeling in the dessert and dressed in an orange jumpsuit. An armed man with the covered face stood behind him. Tomislav Salopek read an ISIS message to Egyptian government where the jihadist group demanded Egyptian authorities to release “female Muslim prisoners” within 28 hours and threatened to kill Croatian hostage if these demands won’t be met.

A deadline has expired on Friday, 7 August.

Northern Sinai based Ansar Beyt Al-Maqdis group that has recently pledged its allegiance to ISIS, was designated as a terrorist organization by Egyptian government in 2014. The group has carried out numerous deadly attacks in Sinai and in other provinces of Egypt as well, targeting primarily soldiers and security forces, but affecting civilians as well.

The group claimed responsibility for the recent assassination of Egyptian Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat in Cairo, of a bombing of Italian Consulate Downtown Cairo, of the recent massive attacks of Egyptian military and police checkpoints in Northern Sinai and along the border with Israel and Gaza and others. Egyptian Armed Forces launched a massive military operation against the group attempting to eliminate terrorist activities in the region.

Egypt also participates in the coalition against ISIS and takes part in the massive USA-led military operation against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.