One of the terrorists who stormed a historic Normandy church Tuesday and forced an 85-year-old priest to kneel before slitting his throat, was a known terror suspect and even wore an electronic tracking device.
French police reportedly likely placed the suspect on the country’s “S-list,” which includes suspects considered radicalized and subject to surveillance. The suspects inclusion on the list underscores the enormity of the challenge facing French counter-terrorism police. The French Center for the Analysis of Terrorism revealed in late June that France had 10,000 active terror suspects and only 5,000 police available to surveil them.
Worse, French anti-terror agents can only surveil 250 of the 10,000 suspects at any one time, because 24-hour surveillance requires twenty agents per suspect. French TV reported that the attacker who was on the watch list, previously tried to get to Syria, but was turned back over to French authorities by Turkish authorities. France reportedly released him in March.
The terrorists reportedly recorded themselves as they made an Arabic speech at a church altar, before making the 85-year-old priest kneel and then slit his throat. The terrorists speech at the altar was presumably a declaration of allegiance to the Islamic State.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, calling both terrorists “soldiers” of the caliphate. The attack is only the latest in a slew of rampages that have spread across Europe since 2015.
Only 12 days before the terrorism at the church, French Terrorist Mohamed Bouhlel killed 85 people and injured hundreds more by driving a massive truck 1.2 miles through a crowd celebrating French independence. And on Sunday, a Syrian migrant blew himself up in a bar in Ansbach, Germany. While a week ago, a 17-year-old Afghan refugee hacked four tourists on a German train with an axe.
France remains in a state of emergency, which has been in effect since the November 15 Paris terrorist attacks that killed 130 people. French President Francois Hollande said the church attack targeted the “soul of France” and that France would use “all means” to defeat ISIS.
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