This article makes reference to the beheading of an Italian hostage in April — more confirmation that this is an accepted pattern of behavior among the mujahedin. From CNN, with thanks to RAdams:
BAGHDAD , Iraq — The Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera showed video Wednesday of three Italian hostages taken captive in Iraq nearly two months ago. In the video, one of the men said the captors were treating them “excellently.”
It marked the first time in more than a month the world has seen pictures of the hostages.
The three, all unshaven, were shown sitting around a table eating with spoons from a communal plate and talking among themselves. Another shot showed the three sitting in chairs. One identified himself as Salvatore Stefio.
“Today is May 31, 2004, Monday,” he said on the video. “This statement we are giving is primarily directed to official Italian authorities, to the government, the holy pope, to the Catholic Church and to our families. They are treating us excellently up until now. We are in excellent conditions. We have not had any problems with the people holding us in this place.”
The three hostages were among four Italians taken captive in Iraq on April 12. The other hostage was beheaded soon afterward — a video that was given to Al-Jazeera at the time but never aired.