ISIS terrorist who shot police officer in Paris was caught two months ago with hunting knives
The ISIS terrorist who gunned down a police officer in Paris was caught two months ago with hunting knives and Scream masks – but was let go because he claimed they were ‘for a carnival’, it was revealed tonight.
Karim Cheurfi, 39, drove his silver Audi on to the Champs Elysee, the most famous street in the French capital, and fired his Kalashnikov after ‘targeting’ officers on Thursday night.
He killed 37-year-old policeman Xavier Jugele as he sat in a patrol van at a red light and another officer in the vehicle was hit in the chest, but survived thanks to a bulletproof vest.
Cheurfi then tried to run away with his rifle and wounded a third officer before being gunned down by a Marks & Spencer store on the world-famous avenue.
ISIS immediately claimed responsibility for the incident and French security services are under immense pressure as they face troubling questions as to how they failed to prevent him from carrying out the attack.
Despite having a long string of police-hating convictions and being jailed for 20 years after trying to kill officers in 2001, prosecutors denied Cheurfi was on a security watch list and added he showed no signs of radicalisation before the attack.
Details of Cheurfi’s terrifying career as a determined criminal was outlined by Paris prosecutor Francois Molins during a press conference in the capital city on Friday evening.
Mr Molins said: ‘Karim Cheurfi was known to the police and the judiciary. In the course of 2017, he sought to obtain weapons and made statements suggesting that he wanted to kill policemen.’
Referring to a commuter town north east of Paris, Mr Molins said: ‘The prosecutor’s office in Meaux opened a preliminary investigation on 13 January 2017.
‘He was taken into custody on 23 February 2017 and his home was searched. He had hunting knives, masks from the film Scream and a GoPro camera.
‘But these elements were not sufficient to provide proof that he wanted to carry out a threat of assassination. For example, he said the masks were for a local carnival.’
Mr Molins added: ‘At that stage, no link with the radical Islamist movement was apparent. Nothing justified further investigations by my office.’
Cheurfi was first arrested in 2001 after a road rage incident in Roissy-en-Brie, near Paris, involving an off duty security manager and his brother.
After a chase, Cheurfi shot at them, wounding them seriously in the chest. In custody, Cheurfi took advantage of a moment of inattention of a custody officer, and tried to kill him with his own revolver.
Four years later, in 2005, Cheurfi was sentenced by judges sitting at the Val-de-Marne Assize Court to 15 years in prison.
At times he was given periods of supervised release from his sentence, which was reduced by five years on appeal.
Despite this, Cheurfi was a notoriously disruptive prisoner who in November 2009 was given another 18 month sentence for attacking a cell mate.
He was also convicted of a number of offences including burglary while out on bail, and also broke his monitoring conditions by travelling to Algeria.
Cheurfi was finally released completely on October 14 2015, but had to make regular appearances before a judge in Meaux. The last summons was in April.
Despite not showing any obvious signs of radicalisation, Mr Molins said Cheurfi had dropped notes in his Audi 80 car expressing his alleged devotion to Islamic State.
Pierre-Henry Brandet, spokesman for the French Interior Ministry, confirmed that both injured officers in hospital were now ‘out of danger’ and ‘stable’, while the female tourist hit by a ricocheting bullet was far less badly hurt.
ISIS named the attacker by his ‘war name’ of ‘Abu Yousuf al-Belgiki’, which translates to ‘the Belgian’ in Arabic – a name that was listed in documents obtained from the terror group last year.
France goes to the polls in the first round of a presidential election on Sunday, and rival candidates used the Cheurfi attack to accuse each other of being soft on terrorism.
Marine Le Pen, of the far-Right National Front, said ‘We cannot afford to lose this war’ and called for borders to be reinstated and ‘foreigners’ to be expelled.
Source: Daily Mail