Champs Elysees attacker stashed weapons,
was on French watchlist
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[June 20, 2017]
By Emmanuel Jarry and Richard Lough
PARIS (Reuters) - A man who rammed a car
into a police van in Paris stored a cache of weapons at his home and
held a gun permit despite being on a secret service list of people
linked to radical Islam, police sources and French officials said on
A judicial source said investigators were compiling an inventory of the
arms and equipment found in the 31-year-old's home. The man, who died in
the attack, was also carrying in his car an assault rifle, two pistols,
ammunition and two large gas canisters when he rammed a police convoy on
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the individual first received a
permit to possess a gun before he was flagged to intelligence agencies
as a potential militant threat. At the time there was no reason to deny
him the permit, Philippe said.
Philippe said it was "quite possible" the license was active at the time
the attacker was on a security watchlist. Three sources close to the
investigation confirmed it was.
"Nobody can be happy, and certainly not me, that someone who has been
flagged to security agencies can continue to benefit from such an
authorization," Philippe told BFM TV.
The man was placed on France's so called 'Fiche S' watchlist after he
was found to belong to a radical Islamist movement, two police sources
Individuals on the list are placed under surveillance though the
intensity of that surveillance varies depending on the perceived threat
the individual poses.
Philippe said draft legislation drawn up in May envisaged changes to
allow officials who handle gun permits to check if individuals seeking
licenses are on a watchlist.
But refusing permits in such cases had it drawbacks, he said. "If you
revoke the authorization of someone who is under surveillance, they're
going to know why."
[to top of second column]
Police secure the area near a burned car at the scene of an incident
in which it rammed a gendarmerie van on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in
Paris, France, June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
On Monday, witnesses saw the man being pulled from the car as thick
yellow smoke poured out.
Police arrested four of his close relatives in a raid south of Paris
late on Monday, a police source said. They included his father and
France has been on high alert after a wave of militant Islamist
attacks over the past two years, including most recently an attack
on police outside the Notre Dame Cathedral and an Islamic
State-claimed attack on police on the Champs Elysees in April.
In July last year, 86 people were killed when a truck plowed through
a crowd in Nice, and similar incidents have occurred in other
Philippe said the government would be presenting a draft law soon to
toughen counter-terrorism legislation.
"We need to find legal instruments that at once guarantee that we
continue to live in a Fifth Republic which safeguards freedoms and
ensure the security of French people," Philippe said.
(Additional reporting by Marine Pennetier and Brian Love; Writing by
Richard Lough; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
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