An online investigative publication has accused Paris police of failing to act on prior warnings about one of the Islamic State militants who killed Father Jacques Hamel in 2016, and of post-dating intelligence memos once the attack occurred.
Mediapart claims that officials held back a note on 19-year-old Adel Kermiche regarding an intercepted seven-minute encrypted conversation on Telegram suggesting that he intended to carry out an attack on French soil, citing churches as a target and Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray in particular. The publication asserts that police had the report a week before the fatal July attack on the 85-year-old priest yet failed to pass it up the chain of command to counter-terror units.
In one of the videos on Telegram, Adel Kermiche reportedly said he gave classes at the mosque of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, and called on jihadists to hit churches: “You go into a church where there is polytheism and you demolish everything! You do what has to be done and that’s it! People in France, now is the time to strike. Here! I say it clearly: strike!”
Mediapart blames the initial police error on overly bureaucratic processes that slow the transfer of information, as well as understaffing during summer holidays and poor work conditions.
The publication cites an unnamed intelligence officer as saying that since what they write is classified as a defense secret, “there are too many controls, too much rereading, too many chiefs who want to correct the notes, put their own input into it.”
Once the attack occurred, the police tried to cover up their bungling of the situation by altering the date on two intelligence memos to make it look more recent, Mediapart claims. Superiors allegedly ordered the officer who wrote the original report to get rid of the note, then rewrite and post-date it to make it look as if the information was received after the attack on Father Hamel.
“Yes, our superiors tried to erase their tracks and they did it badly,” an agent reportedly told the news site. “There was an attempt to backpedal, but it did not go as planned.”
According to a report by the Agence France Presse (AFP), the Paris prosecutor’s office has opened a preliminary investigation into the allegations of failure to act as well as the doctoring of documents by police officials, following the allegations by Mediapart.
As Breitbart News reported, the slain priest’s last words before having his throat slit by his assailants were “Be gone, Satan!”
In his homily at the martyred priest’s funeral Mass, Rouen Archbishop Dominique Lebrun recounted the last moments of the priest’s life as he was slaughtered for his Christian faith.
“Evil is a mystery that reaches summits of horror beyond what is human,” the Archbishop said. “Is that not what you meant, Jacques, by your last words? Falling to the ground after the first stab, you try to push away your attacker with your feet saying, ‘Be gone Satan!’”
Together with his accomplice Abdel Malik Petitjean, Adel Kermiche was shot dead by police after killing the aged priest.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome