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11 Dec, 2018 22:35

Inevitable threat? Strasbourg gunman was on terror watch list, had grenades at home

The gunman who shot multiple victims in Strasbourg had previously been convicted and was known to French intelligence as a possible ‘security risk,’ yet managed to slip through the cracks despite tightened security across France.

The author of these acts, listed as a security threat, had been sought by police,” the regional prefecture confirmed. Yet he has managed to escape arrest earlier in the day, before carrying out the attack near the Christmas market at around 8pm on Tuesday evening. 

Also on rt.com Strasbourg shooting: 2 killed, 14 injured in terrorist attack on Christmas market (VIDEO)

“There are so many people that are involved around the edges of this sort of terrorism if this is what it turns out to be, that you can't keep any sort of meaningful surveillance on them. Even just monitoring the use of communications and social media would be too much,” Peter Kirkham, former London police inspector, told RT.

Despite tight security measures introduced by the French security forces across public holiday venues in the country, Christmas markets remain “attractive” soft targets. Strasbourg has since banned assemblies of people, to assist the security forces in tracking down their suspect.

When you've got a large area of public space it is almost impossible to keep it totally free of weapons, especially if it is a temporary event.

The Strasbourg attack comes amid a major security presence across France, which has been gripped by the Yellow Vest protests over the past weeks. The sheer volume of work handled by the security services during the holiday season could have allowed the shooter to slip through the security cracks, Philip Ingram, a former senior military intelligence officer, told RT.

If we’re going to protect the freedoms that we enjoy as part of society there's almost an inevitability of a level of terrorism that is going to come in there.

“The security forces have to be right 100 percent of the time and, remember, in France at the moment they are distracted with the Yellow Vest protests that are going on,” Ingram said.

“There has been a lot of unrest in France over the last few weeks, so it would be early to call it a terrorist incident,” Ingram noted, as the French counter-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation into the incident.

The attack left two people dead and and 12 wounded. One person was described by the French authorities as “brain-dead” after the attack. The suspect, swiftly identified on surveillance and video recordings, was known for his criminal activities. Authorities believe their target is listed on the ‘Fiche S’ list of potential security threats, was born in February 1989 in Strasbourg and may have been radicalized only recently. He was to be arrested Tuesday morning in a homicide-robbery case, yet when the investigators arrived at his home, he was not there. Grenades were found during the search, according to French media.


Also on rt.com ‘Total mobilization’: Strasbourg bans public demos amid massive manhunt for Christmas market gunman

“If this person was recognized by the French secret service as a threat, he should have been put in jail right away,” Denis Franceskin, a representative of the French National Rally political party in the US, told RT. “This guy was totally free to go anywhere. And this is a big problem. We have thousands of people that are under the S-file in France and our government is doing nothing.”

“Certainly, there was a relationship to what the authorities were doing and the fact that he was on a list...and him going out and doing this,” defense analyst Ivan Eland told RT. “They thought he was involved in some sort of robbery last summer and they had raided his house when he wasn't there, and therefore this could have triggered him to do this.”

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