PARIS, November 17 (Sputnik) — It is highly possible that a French citizen was among Islamic State (IS) militants present in the video showing the execution of US aid worker Peter Kassig, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Monday.
"We have analyzed the video, and it can be said that the possibility that a French citizen is present among the militants is very high. It can be Maxime Hauchard, born in 1992. In August 2013, after living in Mauritania, he went to Syria," Cazeneuve told reporters.
Earlier on Monday, Radio France Internationale reported that two French citizens could have been among the militants participating in the execution of Kassig. The radio broadcaster reported that the identity of one of them was established, naming Hauchard.
Hauchard, 22, left France in summer 2013 and converted to Islam, joining IS and taking the Muslim name Abou Abdallah Al Faransi. Several months ago, Hauchard appeared in a television program talking about his moving to Syria and his current activities.
In spring 2014 Cazeneuve stated in a report that as many as 285 French nationals were in Syria and could have joined militant groups. Moreover, the minister said 120 French citizens intended to join the terrorists.
On Sunday IS militant group claimed to have beheaded Kassig and released a video showing the aftermath of the killing.
Kassig, a Muslim convert who worked for the relief organization he founded to aid Syrian refugees, Special Emergency Response and Assistance (SERA), was abducted in eastern Syria in October 2013.
IS has already executed American reporter James Foley, American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines and British aid worker Alan Henning. The jihadists explain they are killing hostages in retaliation to US-led airstrikes targeting IS militants.
Islamic State, a Sunni jihadi group, has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June, the group extended its attacks to northern and western Iraq, declaring a caliphate on the territories it had seized.
In August, the United States started launching airstrikes against IS positions in Iraq. In September, attacks by the United States and its allies were extended to Syria.