Adel Kermiche, identified as one of the ISIS-aligned terrorists in the murder of an elderly and humble French priest, is a teenager who was previously charged with terrorism and was ordered to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet after two failed attempts to go to Syria, said The Wall Street Journal and AFP. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the priest’s murder.
According to The Sun and French news channel 24, the terrorist – and another – killed the priest during a four-hour period of unsupervised release that Kermiche was granted following the previous terrorist conviction; He had traveled to Syria to try to join ISIS in 2015, the news sites said, quoting French authorities. The Sun cited French TV news channel I-Tele for its information.
The French attack on the priest, Jacques Hamel, during Mass in the 16th century church, comes as France recovers from a terrorist attack during Bastille Day fireworks celebrations in Nice and after attacks in Germany and Mogadishu that were also claimed by Islamic militants.
Intel Site Group, an organization that monitors terrorist activity, says the ISIS news agency has released video that shows the Normandy attackers, including Kermiche, pledging allegiance to ISIS.
French President Francois Hollande said in a news conference that France was “at war” but should not restrict civil liberties.
“Our country is at war…” he said, vowing to eradicate criminal networks in France. “This war will be a long one. What is being attacked is our Democracy. That is the target. It will be our shield. It is our unity that will give us strength. The war against hatred and fanaticism… we will win. …Long live France.” Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a news conference that the government needed to be “ruthless….this is a war. And there is no other choice but to lead and to win.”
The Normandy town where the priest was murdered is the location of the trial of Joan of Arc.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Terrorists Made The Priest Kneel & Kermiche Is the Son of a Professor & Grew Up in a Housing Project, Reports Say
The terrorists shouted Allahu Akbar during the attack, according to Daily Mail. The Amaq News Agency, which is the news agency of the Islamic State, said the attackers were ISIS soldiers online:
According to Reuters, Hollande called it a “dreadful terrorist attack” and said the attackers had “pledged allegiance” to ISIS.
According to The Independent, a family friend of Kermiche said that he “grew up in a housing project in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray” and has a sister who is a doctor and a professor mother. The BBC quoted a local Muslim leader as telling The Associated Press that a terrorist believed to be Kermiche was “followed by police for at least a year and a half.”
Hollande vowed to wage war by every legal means against the Islamic State, said Yahoo. According to The Wall Street Journal, Kermiche was 19. The second suspect in the attack has now been identified through DNA as Abdel-Malik Nabil Petitjean who, like Kermiche, was 19, from France, and had tried to go to Syria, landing him on a watch list.
2. Kermiche Was Under French Surveillance, Was On an Ankle Bracelet & Was Previously Charged With Terrorism, Reports Say
French officials have said one person was detained in the attack, according to the Associated Press. The two attackers, who slit the priest’s throat, were shot and killed by the police, AP says. One is believed to be Kermiche, a local teen known in the area, L’Express says.
The Sun, quoting French television i-Tele, says one of the two men was an accused terrorist who lived with his parents and was supposed to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. The Wall Street Journal said that terrorist was believed to Kermiche and that he was released from custody in the previous offense in March 2016; the newspaper said a friend of Kermiche had confirmed through his family that he was suspected of murdering the priest.
L’Express, a French publication, said that, on his second try to join ISIS in Syria, Kermiche was arrested at a Turkish airport. L’Express said he tried to enter Syria through both Switzerland and Istanbul.
French channel BFMTV says the terrorist now identified as Kermiche was known to counterterrorism services and had tried to go to Syria twice in 2015. “He had been indicted for criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise and remanded in custody and released on electronic bracelet,” said the French station. France 24 said Kermiche had “no conviction on his criminal record” but was “nevertheless known of the antiterrorist justice,” quoting the prosecutor.
According to France 24, he was indicted in 2015 for terrorism and again in 2016 but released to his parents’ custody under “judicial control”; The Paris prosecutor’s office appealed the release and asked that “Adel Kermiche be held in custody pending trial, without success,” said France 24, saying that the decision was made by the judge. Kermiche was allowed to leave home by himself for time periods on weekdays, weekends, and holidays. France 24 said the person detained is an Algerian born youth who is 16-years-old.
According to The Sun, citing French TV news channel I-Tele, the terrorist lived near the church and went to Syria in 2015 in an attempt to join ISIS, but was arrested in Turkey. France 24 said one of the terrorists was being “actively watched” by French intelligence services. The Independent quoted the family friend as saying Kermiche’s family informed French police previously “about his radicalization to stop him going to Syria” and that Kermiche tried to travel there while using his brother’s passport.
The Vatican said the Pope was shocked and praying, according to Fox.
3. The Terrorists Also Critically Injured a Nun & May Have Said an Arabic ‘Sermon’ at the Altar
The account on the Arabic sermon came from a nun who escaped the attack named Sister Danielle. She gave interviews to French media, including French station BMFTV. Sister Danielle told the French radio station RMC, according to The Guardian: “They were busy with their knives. They were filming themselves preaching in Arabic in front of the altar. It was a horror. Jacques was an extraordinary priest. He was a great man, Father Jacques.”
She also told RMC that the terrorists had tackled the priest and that she flagged a passing motorist after fleeing the church, said BFMTV, adding that she said the terrorists made the people in the church gather together and that parishioners shouted at them to stop, saying they didn’t know what they were doing.
BFMTV said the terrorists used knives but also had a mock explosive device and an old “inoperative” gun.
4. The Terrorists Took Hostages Who Were Nuns & Parishioners Described The Priest as Modest, Gentle & Quiet
According to France 24, parishioners recalled the French priest as a “warm, simple” man who lived “modestly.” He was also described as a “man of faith” who was “very quiet and didn’t like to draw attention to himself,” and wanted to remain in the church’s service, France 24 quoted parishioners as saying. France 24 said the Islamic State mentioned The Crusades when claiming credit for the murder.
5. The Terrorists May Have Recorded The Murder & Their Arabic Sermon on Video
The Associated Press quoted the nun named Sister Danielle as saying that the ISIS terrorists recorded themselves saying a “sermon” in Arabic at the altar and that they forced the priest to kneel.
People are now calling Father Hamel a martyr and an Italian politician is suggesting Pope Francis place him on the path toward Sainthood.
Catholics were encouraged to undergo a day of fasting, say BFMTV. The Star says the church was on an ISIS “hit list.”