European authorities believe they have identified at least two Jihadists that appeared in a video recently released by the Islamic State (IS). The video, released over the weekend, shows the mass beheadings of Syrian soldiers, announces the death of Peter Kassig, and shows other European and international fighters who have not yet been identified.
The French interior ministry named one person appearing in the video as Maxime Hauchard, a 22-year-old student from Normandy. Hauchard, who converted to Islam at 17, had been monitored by the government since 2011 before traveling to Syria in 2013. Belgian officials are also investigating whether another man, 28-year-old Abdelmajid Gharmaoui, took part in the executions following his identification by friends and neighbors.
A screenshot of the video said to be showing Abdelmajid Gharmaoui from Belgium. (Photo: Daily Mail UK)
In the UK, investigators launched an inquiry into whether Nasser Muthana, a British medical student, can be seen killing the Syrian soldiers. In a recent interview, Muthana’s father, who currently lives in the UK, believed he identified his son in the video, standing next to Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, known in the British press as “Jihad John,” who is thought to have carried out the beheadings of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff earlier this year.
European officials have become increasingly worried about the number of Jihadists heading to Syria. With the largest Muslim population on the continent, France has become the largest Western single supplier of extremists to the civil war, contributing over 900 fighters to the conflict.
In response, both Paris and London have tightened anti-terrorism laws and continue to monitor their citizens who return home from the Levant. But, with the increasing number of young people attracted to fighting in Syria, European governments must also engage community leaders and religious organizations to produce a counter narrative to violent jihad.