Carcassonne gunman NOT given French nationality after being put on terror watch list

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Carcassonne gunman NOT given French nationality after being put on terror watch list

Reports that Carcassonne gunman Radouane Lakdim was given French nationality even after being flagged up as a potential terror threat sparked anger in France over the weekend. The news turned out to be false but questions remain about the decision to end his surveillance.


There was much anger and incomprehension in France and indeed around the world at the weekend after it was reported that the Moroccan-born Carcassonne gunman who killed four in a shooting spree on Friday had been given French nationality even after being placed on France's terror watch list.

Radouane Lakdim, 26, killed four people in a shooting rampage in Carcassonne and nearby Trèbes on Friday including a 45-year-old gendarme who had swapped himself for a hostage at a supermarket.

As always after a terror attack questions were asked about whether the attacker was on the radar of France's intelligence services for being a potential threat.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told media shortly after the end of Friday's siege that Lakdim, already a convicted criminal after being found guilty of carrying a concealed firearm in 2011, had been flagged up as a danger in 2014 and placed under surveillance.

He was added to the intelligence services "Fiche S" list for radicalization. The list contains thousands of names who are considered a potential danger to the state and has included the names of previous terrorists who then went on to commit attacks in France.

On Friday evening BFM TV reported that Lakdim was given French nationality in 2015, a year after being placed on the watch list. The report provoked much anger, with social media being used by many to vent their fury.

"Fiche S in 2014 + French national in 2015 = 4 dead in 2018," said one tweeter, summing up the incomprehension.

Another tweeted: "Incredible that a someone Fiché S and convicted could be naturalised in 2015."

The report was seized upon by France's far right National Front party whose leader Marine Le Pen has long called for any foreign nationals and those with dual nationality who are on France's Fiche S list to be immediately expelled from the country.

Deputy leader of the National Front Louis Aliot demanded an inquiry be opened to find out who decided to give Lakdim French nationality.

However BFM TV's information proved to be false.

In fact Lakdim gained French nationality in 2004 at the age of 12, when his father became a French national, several French media sites reported.

Nevertheless the false information continued to circulate around social media channels.

French authorities are however not off the hook and questions remain around the surveillance of Lakdim. After spending a month in prison in 2016 it was clear to authorities that he was still radicalized.

Lakdim was placed under surveillance again in 2016 after his release and was kept under watch in 2017 but according to specialist terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins, he gave no sign that was ready to commit a terrorist act.

His surveillance was then stopped, a move that has also sparked incomprehension given his past.

The question of how France can keep tabs on the thousands of individuals flagged up as Fiche S has not seem to have been resolved since France's recent spate of terror attacks began in January 2015, despite being raised after each attack.

While some on the far right call for them to be expelled, others on the right, notably leader of the Republicans party Laurent Wauquiez has demanded internment.

Some right wing MPs have called a Guantanamo Bay-style prison to be opened on a French island to house all radicalized individuals.

Others accept that French intelligence services simply don't have the resources to be able to keep tabs on all radicalized individuals.

"We do not have enough police to be able to follow each of radicalized individual because there are much more serious cases that take priority," said centrist senator Nathalie Goulet.

France's intelligence services helped thwart 20 attacks in 2017 and two other planned atrocities this year.

But just like his predecessors President Emmanuel Macron is under pressure to respond.





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