quarta-feira, 27 de julho de 2016

Teenager who murdered French priest was 'like a ticking time bomb'

Teenager who murdered French priest was 'like a ticking time bomb'

Local resident says Adel Kermiche was troubled, while others say his ‘non-religious’ family did all they could to stop him being redicalised

Elle Hunt and Olivia Solon
Wednesday 27 July 2016 06.48 BST

One of the Islamic State followers who murdered a priest in Normandy was a “ticking time bomb” who displayed signs of “unusual” behaviour, according to people in the town where he lived.

As France’s president, François Hollande, prepared to meet religious leaders on Wednesday to discuss responses to the attack, residents of the Normandy town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray who knew 19-year-old Adel Kermiche have spoken of how his family struggled to break him from the “bubble” of Isis.

Kermiche and another man forced 86-year-old Father Jacques Hamel to his knees then slit his throat in a church in the town near Rouen during morning prayers on Tuesday morning.

The men took five hostages, one of whom was seriously injured after also having his throat slit and left for dead.

The two attackers – both described as Isis followers by Hollande – were shot dead by police as they emerged from the church.

One has been identified as Kermiche, who lived with his parents near the scene of the attack and who had tried several times to travel to Syria.

“Everyone knows that this kid was a ticking time bomb,” a resident of the area identified as Foued, a pseudonym, told Le Parisien after the attack. “He was too strange.”

Another neighbour told Le Figaro that Kermiche showed visible signs of mental disturbance. “He was crazy, he was talking to himself.”

Kermiche was stopped by German police in March 2015 and accused of trying to travel to Syria. He was sent back to France, where he was given conditional parole awaiting trial.

Two months later, he tried to enter Syria again, this time via Turkey. He was sent back to France again and was detained in May 2015.

Despite prosecutors’ protests, he was released in March this year on the condition that he live in his family home, go out only between 8.30am and 12.30pm, and wear an electronic tag that allowed authorities to monitor his movement.

The attack happened at 9.43am local time.

Those close to Kermiche and his family have told of how they “did everything in their power” to reverse his radicalisation by Isis.

A man Le Figaro identified as Bodri, a 23-year-old administration assistant, said he had grown up with Kermiche, who had been “like a little brother” to him.

They had worked together at a children’s outdoor activity centre, he said. “He was sweet with the kids. He behaved himself well.

“He was versatile. He would run craft workshops and dance sessions. He always had ideas for great games.”

Bodri said he had never noticed “any signs of radicalisation”. Kermiche wore his beard short, did not wear a djellaba (robe), and had never spoken to Bodri of wanting to go to Syria.

Bodri had met Kermiche in a car park the night before the attack, he told Le Figaro. “He was dressed in jeans, he was smiling, he was happy, normal.”

He said he did not know Kermiche was wearing an electronic bracelet as per the court orders at the time.

“I am shocked because the attack is atrocious, but he was a good person with a family with strong values.”

Those who knew the Kermiche family stressed their normalcy. A woman identified as Emmeline by Le Figaro, who lived next door, described them as “ordinary”. “He was too,” she said.

According to a neighbour quoted in Le Parisien’s report, one of his sisters was a doctor, and his family was “not even religious”. “They really did everything in their power, and it was not enough.”
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A man given the pseudonym Christian by Le Parisien said he too tried to help Kermiche after he was freed from prison in March this year. He said they were very close, though it was true that Kermiche “only spoke about religion”.

“His sister, his parents, me – we did everything to try and get him out. I tried to talk to him. I told him to stop and that if he needed anyone to confide in outside of his family, I was there. And he answered, ‘Yes, OK, you are right’. But it was like he was inside a bubble.”

Le Parisien reported that Kermiche had recently made a widespread appeal for money, and treated those who refused – the majority – as unbelievers or infidels.

His mother, a professor, spoke to a Geneva newspaper in May 2015, shortly after he had been apprehended by authorities attempting to enter Syria for the second time in as many months.

The attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris on January 2015 had acted as trigger, the Tribune de Genève reported.

He became secretive, started attending a mosque, and regularly lectured his non-practicing relatives.

It took less than three months for Kermiche to be radicalised.

“He said that [Muslims] couldn’t exercise their religion peacefully in France,” his mother said. “He spoke with words that didn’t belong to him. He was under a spell, like a cult.”

She said authorities refused her request to give him an electronic bracelet after he ran away to Syria the first time, in March.

“Fortunately we managed to catch him in time, twice. If he had made it to Syria, I would have written off my son. I want to know who messed up my kid.

“We don’t know where to turn for help.”

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