On Tuesday, two suspects with knives stormed a Catholic Church in the Normandy region of France. After taking five hostages, they killed the priest, Father Jacques Hamel, and pledged allegiance to ISIS. Now it’s been revealed that French authorities had detained one of the suspects twice before the attacks, but had also released him while he awaited trial.
According to The Guardian, Adel Kermiche, who was 19 years old, was jailed twice on suspicion of traveling to Syria to join ISIS. Here are details of these two instances:
Kermiche was stopped by German police in March 2015 and accused of trying to travel to Syria. He was sent back to France, where he was given conditional parole awaiting trial. Two months later, he tried to enter Syria again, this time via Turkey. He was sent back to France again and was detained in May 2015.
Kermiche was somehow released from custody in March, despite prosecutors’ objections. He had to wear an electronic tag, and could only leave his house between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on weekdays, which gave him the window of time to carry out the church attack.
Kermiche’s own mother said that he was determined to join ISIS in Syria, and that it was impossible to dissuade him from these plans:
“He said that [Muslims] couldn’t exercise their religion peacefully in France,” his mother said. “He spoke with words that didn’t belong to him. He was under a spell, like a cult.”
Other people who knew him describe him as a “ticking time bomb,” and the local mosque had asked him to not attend prayers after his second detainment. He reportedly carried out this fatal attack with another 19-year-old who was previously unknown to authorities. Both were shot to death after the attack.
The France 24 broadcast above has more information on Kermiche, including the fact that he tried to get into Syria using family members’ IDs. He was also put on France’s terror watch list, known as Fiche S, which currently has 20,000 names on it. With all this information, the French authorities are under pressure to explain why Kermiche was released while he awaited trial after his second detainment.
(via The Guardian)