Several Islamic State-affiliated Twitter accounts published pictures of the Croatian citizen kidnapped in Egypt after he was killed and beheaded, following the expiry of the 48-hour deadline set last Wednesday.
The Province of Sinai, a militant group based in North Sinai formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdes, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, had threatened last week to kill a Croatian citizen they had kidnapped, 30-year-old Tomislav Salopek, within 48 hours if their demands weren’t met.
Two screenshots of news articles were overlaid on the picture of Salopek, which has been widely circulated by Islamic State supporters on Twitter.
The screenshots justify targeting a Croatian citizen, citing one article titled, “Croatia asserts its support for Egypt’s efforts to fight terrorism and extremism,” published on March 17, 2015 by the Egyptian Al-Dostour news website.
The other article refers to a statement by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on July 22, 2015, expressing Croatia’s ongoing support for Kurdistan and Peshmerga fighters against terrorism in Iraq.
In a video message released last week, which has since been removed, the group demanded that the Egyptian government release Muslim female prisoners in exchange for Salopek.
Escalating its operations in Egypt, the group kidnapped the Croatian national on July 22 in Cairo, as he was driving in 6th of October City to his work at a French-owned company, according to a statement by the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
The company driver accompanying the Croatian engineer at the time told authorities that masked men in a white minivan armed with automatic weapons blocked the Wahat Road in front of his car. The men then kidnapped Salopek, sparing the driver and leaving his belongings behind, including US$5000.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry asserted in a statement released last Friday, the day that the deadline expired, that the authorities are undertaking “intense efforts” to locate the kidnapped Croatian. This followed discussions between Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and his Croatian counterpart held in Cairo.
According to the ministry’s Facebook page, Shoukry spoke with the Croatian foreign minister, assuring him that the Egyptian authorities are “exerting utmost efforts” to investigate Salopek’s murder and prosecute those responsible.
Meanwhile, MENA quoted an unidentified security source who said there is no confirmation on Salopek’s death, and that the search for the kidnappers is still ongoing.
The ministry then released a statement late Wednesday announcing that Shoukry told his Croatian counterpart, Vesna Pusic, that the Egyptian authorities have been unable to confirm the news on the beheading of a Croatian hostage kidnapped by militants, the ministry said in a statement late Wednesday.
In a video message released last week, which has since been removed, the Province of Sinai group demanded that the Egyptian government release Muslim female prisoners in exchange for Salopek.
The Islamic State has executed several foreign captives in Syria and Libya in the past few months.