French authorities have identified the second jihadist involved in the brutal killing of a priest in northern France on Tuesday, acknowledging that they had received a tip-off Friday saying that the man was preparing an imminent attack.
The tip-off came from an unnamed foreign intelligence agency and included a picture of 19-year-old Abdel Malik Petitjean in conjunction with an upcoming attack. The communiqué said that the man was “ready for carry out an attack on national soil.”
Petitjean, the second assailant in Tuesday’s assault, was a known entity to law enforcement whose name was on the French terror watch list as an Islamic radical for attempting to travel to Syria via Turkey earlier this year.
The other attacker was immediately identified as Adel Kermiche, also 19. Kermiche was under house arrest at the time and had been wearing an ankle bracelet, which was turned off on weekday mornings.
“Following DNA tests, it emerged that the terrorist has been identified as Abdel Malik Nabil Petitjean,” a source in the Paris prosecutor’s office told French media.
Police discovered an ID card belonging to Petitjean in Kermiche’s house but required DNA tests to verify his identity, since his body had been disfigured in the police shooting.
On Tuesday morning, the pair entered a small Catholic church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray morning as Father Jacques Hamel was celebrating Mass. The attackers seized the man and forced him to kneel before slitting his throat. They also took the five congregation members hostage, critically injuring a religious sister, before being shot by French police.
Following Tuesday’s attack, the Islamic State released a video showing two men, identified as the authors of the assault, as they pledge allegiance to ISIS. The video was published by the Amaq agency, the Islamic State’s propaganda arm.
Amaq earlier reported that the attack had been executed by two of its “soldiers,” who had “responded to a summons to target coalition countries” involved in combatting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Breitbart News reported Wednesday that the Roman Catholic parish of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray where the terror attack took place had donated land in 2000 to the local Muslim community for the building of the Yahia mosque.
Reports from France stated that the small Norman town is “known to be a hub of the Jihadist network,” and the local “Salafist” mosque has been the spiritual home to several known Islamist radicals.
In November 2014, a year before the Paris and Saint-Denis jihadist attacks, this city of 30,000 souls had already made news as a hotspot of radical Islam.
The jihadist micro-network included the notorious Islamist Maxime Hauchard, who joined the Islamic State in Syria in August 2013. Hauchard’s name appears on the black list of most wanted terrorists by the U.S. State Department.
Hauchard, who also frequented the mosque of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, appeared in a 2014 video of the beheading of American aid worker Peter Kassig and 18 Syrian military captives.
Last November, the local prefect of Seine Maritime, Pierre-Henry Maccioni, described the situation regarding the presence of radicalized Muslim youth in Seine-Maritime.
According to his report, police had identified 140 high risk people in the department, thirty of whom were under “special surveillance.”
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