French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday warned that “extreme horror” films used by terrorist groups could harm young people, after fresh footage emerged of Western hostages held by North African jihadists.
Officials said the video was likely intended as “an instrument of pressure” to force an exchange for Serge Lazarevic and Sjaak Rijke, who were kidnapped in Mali in November 2011.
The recording, confirmed as authentic by French authorities, comes as intelligence agencies are investigating the involvement of Western jihadists in the beheading of American aid worker Peter Kassig.
Hollande voiced fears about the effect “this sort of voyeurism of barbarity” could have on young people, at a time when fears are growing about Europe-born jihadists returning home from conflicts in the Middle East.
The brutal video, released by the Islamic State group on Sunday, features two suspected French nationals among a group of men who claim to have killed 18 Syrian prisoners and the US aid worker.
Hollande said the video was an attempt to instill “horror” and send the message: “See what we are capable of and what your probable nationals are capable of.”
Some 1,000 French nationals are thought to have joined in the conflict, of which 375 are still there, according to Paris. At least 36 have been killed, they estimate.
Overall, 3,000 Europeans have joined the jihadists, the European Union said in September.