One of the ISIS soldiers who slit Father Jacques Hamel’s throat during mass in Normandy had reportedly also worked full-time as a baggage handler at a nearby French airport. Abdelmalik Petitjean was one of the two Islamic State attackers who killed the priest before using nuns as human shields in a bid to flee police.
Petitjean had pledged allegiance to ISIS and was seen on video declaring his place as a soldier for the terrorist group. However, despite his connections to the extremists, the young man was able to easily pass security checks at the airport and secured a job handling airplane baggage.
The Daily Mail reports that Abdelmalik Petitjean was on the terror watchlist when he entered a Catholic church in Normandy and slit the throat of a priest in front of the congregation. The two teen jihadists reportedly took the priest hostage before beginning to preach in Arabic at the alter. The pair then forced the priest to kneel and slit his throat.
After killing the priest, the two took nuns hostage and attempted to use them as human shields as a police task force descended on the church. Fortunately, a sharpshooter was able to take out the killers without harming the nuns.
— ABC News (@ABC) July 28, 2016
Following the death of the priest, it was determined that both of the suspects were on terror watch lists. However, in a frightening revelation, it was reported that Petitjean had worked full-time as a baggage handler at the Chambery Airport just two months before he was caught by Turkish intelligence attempting to get into the ISIS caliphate in Syria. Although the teen was obviously sympathizing with the Islamic State, authorities reveal he easily passed security checks at the airport to get the job as a baggage handler.
“Petitjean had no trouble getting through a police investigation and psychological evaluation. He was considered to be a hardworking, friendly young man who did not pose any danger to passengers or others using the airport. He got through the police investigation easily.”
The source in the investigation notes that not only was it easy for him to pass the background check, he also passed a psychological evaluation. Therefore, many are now concerned about the potential for security threats within the airport system as Petitjean was an ISIS-sympathizer working at the airport for months with security clearance. Frighteningly, Petitjean had access to an airport, which has over 250,000 travelers come through the doors a year, just two months before he declared his loyalty to the terror group.
Petitjean was seen on camera pledging loyalty to ISIS and also was videoed telling fellow extremists to destroy France in anyway possible.
The Heavy reports that the Coordinating Unit for the Fight Against Terrorism (UCLAT) identified Petitjean as a potential ISIS-sympathizer after they identified him as an individual “willing to participate in an attack.” Petitjean had allegedly deemed himself as a reliable person for an attack, and so he was placed on the terror watch list. However, that did not stop him from teaming up with Adel Kermiche, another French teen on the watchlist, to carry out the horror attack in the church.
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) July 29, 2016
Kermiche was able to carry out the murder despite having an electronic monitoring device on his leg. The teen was allowed to leave his home on weekday mornings; therefore, the pair simply planned the attack at a time that Kermiche was free to roam the streets.
What do you think about the fact that both Petitjean and Kermiche were on the terror watch list at the time of the deadly attack? Is the attack even more concerning given that Kermiche was under partial house arrest and being monitored at the time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
[Photo by Francois Mori/AP Images]