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Terror Strikes France Again…Two ISIS Recruits Slay a Priest | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Police and rescue workers work at the scene after two assailants had taken five people hostage in the church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen in Normandy. REUTERS/Steve Bonet

Paris- On April 19 last year, Paris police stopped an Algerian student named Syed Ahmad Ghulam a few blocks away from where he was living in the French capital. Ghulam was arrested after having shot himself—a 32-year-old female sports trainer was found dead with a bullet in the head in the back of the car.

Ballistics matched the crime to a gun found in Ghulam’s vehicle.

Ghulam’s laptop provided hard evidence that the youth is directly linked to terror organizations. What is more is that investigators decrypted an email written in Arabic asking that Ghulam stages an attack against a mass-holding church.

On that note France was more recently plunged into profound horror and shock for the second time in 12 days, after a Tunisian man drove at high speed truck into a Bastille Day celebrations crowd, when two men slit the throat of a priest as he was celebrating mass in a Normandy church on Tuesday morning.

Jacques Hamel, the 86-year-old Catholic priest slain in an attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France.

Tuesday’s attack was described by French president François Hollande as an act of terrorism carried out by two followers of ISIS.

Police shot and killed the attackers as they emerged from the church, freeing three hostages, one of whom was seriously wounded.

ISIS-affiliated news agency, Amaq, soon made a statement on two of its “soldiers” having carried out the attack. Police said one person had been arrested.

In the statement, the “soldiers” had staged the attack in response to callings made by ISIS leadership urging assaults against countries partaking in the international coalition fighting the hardline group in Syria and Iraq.

France’s prosecutor Francois Molins revealed on Tuesday that one of the perpetrators of the church attack was identified as Adel Kermiche, 19.

Molins added that security forces have had Kermiche under surveillance, using an “electronic tag” that he was wearing. The 19-year-old had registered two attempts on escaping to Syria in plans to fight along ISIS ranks.

The monitoring apparatus was a condition of his house arrest after two attempts in 2015 to travel abroad.

Kermiche was identified via fingerprints after the attack; Hollande said it was committed in the name of ISIS.

Speaking to journalists in the town where the two men took five people hostage during morning mass on Tuesday, Hollande said the attack was a “cowardly assassination” carried out “by two terrorists in the name of ISIS.”

The second killed attacker has not been identified.

Hollande urged the public to remain unified in the face of the threat.

“All people feel affected so we must have cohesion. … No one can divide us,” he said.

“Terrorists will not give up on anything until we stop them.”

The far right leader also said that the government had an “immense” responsibility at the moment.

This comes as the former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has called for action to stop these disgusting attacks.

In a televised speech, he said: “Following Nice, our country has been hit by another barbaric act with particular inhuman circumstances.

“We must change completely how we are reacting.

“Our enemy has no morals, no barriers, no limit.

“I am asking the government to put into action what we told them months ago, we do not have any time to waste.

“This is war and we do not have any other choice but to lead it and to win.”

The far right French leader Marine Le Pen has described the attack at a Normandy church as “revolting” and said she now fears another imminent attack by ISIS terrorists.

The leader of the anti-immigrant Front National party, Le Pen, saw her rating rise three per cent following the terrorist attacks.