Two new videos by jihadi groups show the conflicting roles of Europeans in brutal struggles waged by militant Islamists -- as both victims and as perpetrators. One of the videos shows French and Dutch hostages pleading for help. Another video appears to show a Frenchman, and possibly another, involved in an execution of Syrian solders.
French authorities confirm that a new video is authentic that shows Frenchman Serge Lazarevic asking France to help liberate him. The video was posted by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which captured Lazarevic and another hostage three years ago in Mali. The other hostage, Phlippe Verdon, was shot dead in 2012. The video also shows a Dutch hostage.
Lazarevic is the last Frenchman being held hostage. Another hostage, Herve Gourdel, was executed in September. Lazarevic's daughter, Diane, told French radio Tuesday it was shocking to see images of him so thin and weak.
Diane Lazarevic said she hoped French President Francois Hollande does everything possible to secure her father's liberation before Christmas.
A number of French hostages have been released over the years. France denies it pays ransom. But experts suggest this may happen through intermediaries. A report published by The New York Times [July 29, 2014] claims al-Qaida and its affiliates have earned $125 million in ransom payments for French and other European hostages since 2008.
A second video released Sunday shows another face of militant Islam -- with Europe not only a target, but also an exporter of radical fighters. Authorities say 22-year-old French convert Maxime Hauchard appears to be among Islamic State militants who are filmed executing Syrian soldiers. Another Frenchman also may be in the video.
France's BFM TV interviewed Hauchard by Skype in July. He described how he left his home in Normandy to join the Islamic State in Syria. He said he wants to become a martyr.
Authorities estimate that thousands of Europeans have left their homelands to join the IS in Iraq and Syria, including nearly 1,000 French citizens.
France's response also has grown. Paris prosecutor Francois Moulins said the number of French judicial investigations linked to radical Islam has increased by 200 percent in just one year.