President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Monday that Michel Germaneau, a 78-year-old French aid worker kidnapped by al Qaeda in April, has been beheaded in the Sahara following a failed rescue attempt. The leader of al Qaeda’s North African branch said that Germaneau was killed in retaliation for the “treacherous operation” that left six militants dead. Al Qaeda had threatened to kill Germaneau by Monday if France didn’t free jailed members in the area. "Convinced he was condemned to a certain death, we had the duty to make this effort to pull him free from his captors," Sarkozy said in a public address in Paris on Monday. The same al Qaeda branch has been holding two Spanish aid workers hostage since November.