A second Frenchman was today identified among the ISIS fighters suspected of beheading 18 Syrian soldiers in a video that also showed the severed head of US aid worker Peter Kassig.
He is Michael Dos Santos, a 22-year-old originally from the Paris suburb of Champigny-sur-Marne, in the Val-de-Marne department.
Dos Santos, a French national of Portuguese origin, can be seen standing alongside “Jihadi John” in the video released by ISIS at the weekend. He uses the nom de guerre “Abu Uthman” and is seen in the video wearing military fatigues, a black hat and a thick beard.
One of the other killers has been identified as a Belgian fighter named Abdelmajid Gharmaoui, 28, who uses the nom de guerre “Abu Dujana.” Kurdish soldiers have identified another as a Filipino national and yet another is thought to be 22-year-old French former Catholic Maxime Hauchard from Normandy.
Paris prosecutors have now opened a criminal inquiry into both Dos Santos and Hauchard.
Dos Santos was known by the French intelligence agencies before he travelled to Syria earlier this year, and had frequently posted jihadi slogans on social media.
Gharmaoui, a 28-year-old Belgian from the Flemish town of Vilvoorde, is known to have been a member of the group Sharia4Belgium and have links to other Islamist groups across Europe.
He left for Syria in October 2012, saying he wanted to fight Jihad, and was last placed in the village of Dabiq, where the video was recorded.
Hauchard, who converted to Islam from Catholicism five years ago at the age of 17, appeared on French television in July where he described life as a fighter for the Islamic State in Syria as being “like a holiday” and said that he was looking forward to dying so that he could become a “martyr.”
As well as French intelligence experts, analysts from Britain, Europe, the U.S., the Middle East, Asia and Australia and New Zealand are poring over the footage to try and put names to the faces in the latest ISIS video.
And while investigators frantically try to identify the remaining men, other teams are working to establish who is behind the incredibly slick and well produced videos the terror group puts out.
The high quality editing of the latest 16-minute-long video suggests expensive software has been used and some of the techniques suggest they have been produced by either a fighter or a hostage with a knowledge or experience of film making, experts believe.
There are also suggestions that the highly choreographed and synchronized beheading of Syrian soldiers suggest a degree of off-screen direction.
“This is really well-organised, macabre theatre, but on a higher level than anything we have seen before,” Paul Cornish, a professor of strategic studies at Exeter University, told The Times. “The terror effect I think was huge. This is really sophisticated.”