Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) loyalists in Egypt yesterday (Wednesday) threatened to execute a Western hostage kidnapped outside Cairo in a video bearing the hallmarks of Jihadi John beheadings in Syria.
The video shows a man wearing a yellow jumpsuit kneeling in the desert before a knife-wielding masked man in military fatigues. A black Islamic flag often used by the extremists flutters next to him.
Reading calmly from a note written in English, the man identifies himself as Croatian Tomislav Salopek, a married, 30-year-old father of two, adding that fighters captured him late last month.
If Egyptian authorities did not release "Muslim women" they were holding, he told the camera, "the soldiers from Wilayat Sina will kill me".
Wilayat Sina is the Arabic phrase for the Egyptian group calling itself the Sinai Province of the Islamic State.
"This matter has to be achieved within 48 hours from now. If not, the soldiers from Wilayat Sinai will kill me." He did not say from when the countdown began.
Mr Salopek was kidnapped last month as his car left Cairo, the first incident of its kind near a city which remains a popular tourist destination. This is also the first time that Wilayat Sinai has threatened to execute a western hostage.
It was not immediately clear whether more specific demands had been relayed to the Egyptian government, and no officials were available for comment on yesterday evening.
Mr Salopek, an employee of the French geophysical services company CGG, is understood to have been abducted in the early hours of July 22. Sources said militants had pulled Mr Salopek's Egyptian driver out of the car before driving away with the Croatian national inside.
The car was found a short distance away, filled with Mr Salopek's belongings.
Isil holds about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in its self-declared "caliphate." In Syria, Isil militants, one of whom has been named as Briton Mohammed Emwazi, nicknamed Jihadi John, have killed foreign journalists and aid workers, starting with the American journalist James Foley in August last year.
Foreign interests have been increasingly targeted by Isil loyalists in Egypt. The Italian consulate was hit with a car bomb last month, days after another bomb killed the prosecutor general, Hisham Barakat, in Cairo.
Based in Egypt's restive Sinai peninsula, Sinai Province has been in battle with the army since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi two years ago. In Sinai, the Islamist militants have launched increasingly sophisticated attacks in recent months that have killed dozens of Egyptian soldiers and police. Government forces have intensified their hunt for the militants in several northern towns in the peninsula.
The threat from Sinai Province threaten to torpedo the pro-government fanfare dominating Egypt's state and private media ahead tomorrow's inauguration of the New Suez Canal.
One of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's pet projects, the new waterway will be formally opened in front of dignitaries from around the world.