The two terrorists who stormed into the French Catholic church in Normandy on July 26 and killed the 85-year-old priest there and pledged their allegiance to ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) were teenagers, authorities are now saying. The pair were killed by French police during an attempt to free a group of hostages held within the church. The incident marks yet another in a series of attacks staged by those claiming alignment with ISIS, but this attack illuminates a particular problem for law enforcement and intelligence agencies throughout the world trying to thwart the terrorist activities of the Islamic State (and other extremist groups) — the radicalization of the young.
Good Morning America reported July 27 that at least one of the two terrorists — both of whom reportedly were teenagers — responsible for killing auxiliary priest Rev. Jacques Hamel has been identified. According to French authorities, Adam Kemiche, 19, had a long history of arrests for attempting to join ISIS in the Middle East. In fact, he had been arrested in Germany and Turkey for doing just that and was wearing an ankle monitor and under house arrest as late as March of this year for his latest failure. (Note: In an effort to deal with the rise of the Islamic State and its recruiting programs, many governments worldwide have made it illegal to join — or even attempt to join — the extremists and their self-described “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq.)
The Telegraph reported later in the day that the other terrorist was identified as Abdel Malik P. According to authorities, Malik, also 19-years-old, was the teen that actually killed the priest.
The attack occurred at the end of morning mass at the Saint Etienne du Rouvray Catholic church in Normandy, the teen terrorists rushing into the service through a back entrance and taking several people hostage, including the priest and nuns. They were armed with several knives, fake guns, and even had phony explosives.
One of the nuns present, Sister Danielle, said, according to Express, “When I saw them I said to myself, ‘that’s it, it’s over’.” She added, “They were so motivated, they told me ‘you Christians, you kill us’.”
The nun said the young men started preaching to them. “Jacques had just celebrated his mass, they took his place and started preaching in Arabic. He was near the altar, they forced him to kneeling told him not to move.”
They then stabbed him and slit his throat. A Paris prosecutor would later provide details, saying that the priest had died from stab wounds to the neck and torso. Rev. Jacques Hamel was close to celebrating 60 years in the priesthood.
A parishioner was also seriously injured by the terrorists. A nun, originally one of the hostages, managed to escape and alert police, who at first attempted to negotiate with the attackers.
The Paris prosecutor said, according to Good Morning America, the hostage situation came to an end when the two teen terrorists went outside the church and were “neutralized.” They were shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great”) and reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS before being shot to death.
The New York Times reported that the teen terrorists’ attack on the church was the fourth by ISIS allegiants in two weeks. The Inquisitr reported that there had been 208 people killed in ISIS attacks in France since the start of the year.
France’s president, Francois Hollande, condemned the attacks as not only an assault on the Catholic church but an attack on France itself.
ISIS quickly acknowledged the teen terrorists as “soldiers of the Islamic State.” The extremists’ own Amaq news agency claimed, according to Iraqi News, the attack was “in response to calls for attacks on the Crusader alliance.”
But Adel Kemiche and Abdel Malik P. seem to be part of growing problem in France, Europe, and the rest of the world with regard to ISIS. As terrorism and Middle East expert Peter Bergen pointed out in his latest book, United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists, the proselytizing and recruiting by ISIS of young people via their propaganda (especially via the internet) has become a growing security problem. He chronicled several youths in the book that became radicalized and either made their way to the Middle East to join up with ISIS or were arrested (some still await trial) attempting to “aid” or become part of Islamic State.
Inquisitr reported in May that German intelligence was worried, issuing a warning of the increasing number of children being used as “weapons” by ISIS. Dutch intelligence had documented children as young as 9-years-old having joined the extremists.
An NBC News report in 2014 spoke of the Islamic State purposely recruiting children to their extremist cause. Reports of weapons training and desensitization indoctrination of children and adolescents in the radicalized Wahabbist version of Sunni Isla is an overall strategic attempt by ISIS to ensure their “longevity by providing a ready-and-willing next generation of jihadis.” Such indoctrination training has led to ISIS using the young recruits as human shields and suicide bombers as well as actual militants on the field of battle.
And as the Islamic State sees its “caliphate” shrinking, its territory being eroded militarily day by day by United States-backed coalition forces in Iraq and Russian-backed Syrian forces in Syria (not to mention various militias and independent factions also fighting ISIS), the long-term objective now seems to be to spread the ideology via terrorist activities throughout the world. France, with its large Muslim population, not to mention the prevalence of unemployment and poor upward mobility in said community, has particular worries of increased radicalization. And, as experts suggest, with more of those being recruited being teens or younger, an ISIS attack by teen terrorists on targets like a church and priest — not to mention nightclubs, restaurants, and places of public transportation — will unfortunately become more prevalent.
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