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Homeland Security

Online Image Purports to Show Croat Killed by IS

August 12, 2015

by Ken Bredemeier

The Islamic State's Egyptian affiliate claimed Wednesday it has beheaded a Croatian it abducted last month, showing a purported photo of his body in an online message.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said authorities in Croatia could not "100 percent confirm" the death of Tomislav Salopek, a married, 30-year-old father of two who was working in Egypt. But Milanovic said "what we see looks horrific."

If confirmed, Salopek's beheading would be the first of a Western hostage held by the Sinai Province, an Egyptian group that has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State.

Since last year, the Islamic State has beheaded or executed more than 3,000 people, many of them civilians in Iraq and Syria, along with journalists from throughout the world, a tourist and humanitarian workers employed in the region.

Photo posted on Twitter

The purported Salopek photo, posted on an Islamic State-affiliated Twitter account, shows a man's severed head lying on his body with a knife driven into sand next to it and the black Islamic State flag in the background.

It carried a caption saying that the beheading was carried out "due to his country's participation in the war against Islamic State, after the deadline expired," a reference to the insurgents' demand when it took Salopek hostage that Cairo release Muslim women from its jails.

Next to the picture were screenshots of Arabic language news articles with headlines saying: "Croatia confirms its support for Egypt in efforts to fight terrorism and extremism" and "Croatia affirms its continued support for the Kurdistan region."

Salopek's abduction spread anxiety among foreigners working for multinational companies in Egypt and accentuated the reach of the jihadists despite Cairo's massive military campaign against the Islamic State.

IS threat

When he was first kidnapped, Salopek, kneeling next to a masked militant holding a knife, was forced to read a statement saying he would be executed within 48 hours if Egypt did not release the female prisoners, which the Islamic State has been demanding for the past two years.

Salopek was working in Egypt as a surveyor for GCC Ardiseis, a French oil and gas geology company.

The Sinai Province is leading the Islamist insurgency in Egypt against the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the one-time Egyptian military chief who helped overthrow the elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. The militant group has killed hundreds of soldiers and police.

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