Rabat - On Friday this week, a lone gunman identified as Redouane Lakdim stormed into a supermarket in Trèbes, a small town in southern France, killing four people, including the high-ranked officer Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame who traded his life to save a hostage. Sixteen others are believed to have been wounded in the attack, with one currently in a critical state.
Rabat – On Friday this week, a lone gunman identified as Redouane Lakdim stormed into a supermarket in Trèbes, a small town in southern France, killing four people, including the high-ranked officer Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame who traded his life to save a hostage. Sixteen others are believed to have been wounded in the attack, with one currently in a critical state.
Following this attack that some in France say constitute President Macron’s first ‘true test’ in facing the mounting challenges of terrorism and related threats, the French president affirmed his “absolute determination” to crush terrorism and other forms of “fundamentalisms.” And regarding the ‘Trèbes gunman,’ the French president reminded the police and all other security services that facing the surging extremist challenge would mean asking and answering some fundamental questions: “When and how did his [the Trèbes attack’s perpetrator’s] radicalization occur? How did he get the gun he used?” Macron added that “all necessary means should be mobilized to answer these questions.”
Following the police operation in which the suspect was killed, Le Monde published a series of articles that shed some insight into Redouane Lakdim’s demographic profile and motivations for the Friday incident.
Two relatives of the terrorist have been placed under police custody, Le Monde reports, adding that the “perpetrator’s bloody itinerary” is a long story of abrupt radicalization and petty crimes.
Based on the findings of the first police investigations, Le Monde reports that the series of events started on Friday when Lakdim attacked an Opel Corsay labeled white car with two people inside. He stole the car, killing one of the two people and critically wounding the other.
Around 11 am, he drove to a marine camp which he was eying to assault. He, however, had a change of heart, driving instead to a CRS (the general reserve of the French national police) facility. There, he opened fire on four policemen who were jogging, wounding one of them on his left shoulder, before fleeing and escaping the fury of the CRS officers. “Investigators found six bullets near the CRS facilities,” said Paris’ public prosecutor François Molins.
The suspect then stormed into a supermarket in which there were around fifty people. “Preliminary findings attest that he entered the supermarket while shouting ‘Allah Akbar’, and saying that he is ready to die for Syria,” Mr. Molins noted. According to the public prosecutor, the perpetrator also asked for the release of his ‘brothers in arms,” especially Salah Abdeslam, the “most important surviving suspect” of the 13 November 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people. He indiscriminately opened fire in the crowded supermarket, killing a client and the supermarket’s butcher.
When the gendarmerie later encircled the supermarket, the perpetrator accepted to liberate one of the hostages in exchange for Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame. Mr. Beltrame is believed to have kept his phone line open, which would later allow his colleagues to launch the assault that killed the perpetrator and liberated the supermarket hostages. Speaking after the liberation of the hostages, French President Emmanuel Macron praised the ‘noble sacrifice’ of the officer who traded his life. Macron dubbed him “a national hero whose sacrifice will forever remain in our memories.”
Daesh claimed the attack late on Friday, saying that the lone gunman was operating under their command.
Who is Redouane Lakdim?
According to primary police investigations, the 25-year old Redouane Lakdim was born in Morocco on 11 April 1992. He was reportedly known for his Salafi leanings, as well as his criminal past, although, according the authorities, all of the crimes he had engaged in were petty crimes with no real threat of radicalization.
“Between 2016 and 2017, he was the object of a police monitoring. But we found no evidence and warning signs of a possible radicalization” Mr. Molins told the press. This was reiterated by France’s interior minister Gérard Collomb who also said: “We were monitoring him and we thought that he was not radicalized.” Mr. Collomb added that the supermarket attack was “unexpected” and “abrupt.”
Redouane Lakdim’s partner, together with a “minor friend of his,” are currently being held under police custody “for determining the provenance of the gun the terrorist used, the circumstances under which he got his gun, as well as eventual complicities” involved in this “tragedy,” Le Monde reported. According to the same outlet, police investigations of Mr. Lakdim’s house established the gunman’s links with ISIS with “notes, a personal testament, and visual contents” that attest that the suspect may have been a member or a simple sympathizer of the terrorist group.
Investigations are still ongoing, but everything now indicates that the suspect paid allegiance to the Islamic State, the police said, adding that subsequent investigations will reveal more details in the case.