How did French and German security services overlook Strasbourg ‘radical Islamist’ with a string of convictions and bungle raid on his home where he stored guns and grenades?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
By Paul Martin

Two people killed, one brain-dead and 13 injured when gunman opened fire at Strasbourg Christmas Market
Cherif Chekatt, 29, who was on the security services’ ‘state threat’ watchlist, shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’
Chekatt, from Strasbourg, has a lengthy criminal record and was ‘known in local Islamist extremist circles’
Gunman was injured in exchange of fire with soldiers, but hijacked a taxi and managed to flee the scene
President Macron raised the country’s terror level to its highest state as anti-terror police probed the attack

12 December 2018

The 29-year-old who shot and killed at least two people and injured 13 others at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, northeastern France last night, was well known to police and security services in no less than three countries.

Cherif Chekatt, who shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ – meaning ‘God is Great’ in Arabic – as he opened fire on the crowds, is known to be part of Islamist networks in Strasbourg and has a lengthy criminal record which includes 27 convictions as well as lengthy prison sentences in Germany, France and Switzerland.

The French secret service had been warned that he had become radicalised in prison, and placed him on a designated ‘threat to the state’ watchlist in 2015 – but this had not been communicated to German authorities who jailed him for burglary in 2016.

Yesterday morning, police searched his flat in connection with a different crime, and found an arsenal of weapons including a grenade, but Chekatt was not at home at the time of the raid, and would later go on to kill and maim more than a dozen people.

Meanwhile, his first victim has been named as Anupong Suebsamarn, a 45-year-old Thai man on holiday in Europe with his wife, according to Thai media.

Four of those injured are still fighting for their lives, among them 28-year-old Italian journalist Antonio Megalizzi, who was in town to cover the European Parliament, with six others seriously hurt.

German authorities said that Chekatt, who was jailed for burglary in 2016, had not been deemed a potentially dangerous Islamist – despite the fact that he was on the French Government’s list of people considered a threat to national security

‘For us, he was a blank slate,’ said a spokeswoman of the Federal Criminal Police Office, which takes charge of cases related to terrorism.

An interior ministry spokeswoman also said that there has been no indications suggesting an Islamist link to the suspect.

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