Sunday 22 October 2017

Cousin of Isil priest killer 'knew that an attack was planned'

Men stand near flowers left in tribute to French priest Father Jacques Hamel outside the parish church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, France. Photo: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters
Men stand near flowers left in tribute to French priest Father Jacques Hamel outside the parish church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, France. Photo: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Rory Mullholland

The cousin of one of two teenage jihadists who slit the throat of a French priest knew that he was about to commit an attack and should face terror charges, prosecutors have said.

Farid K, who was arrested after his cousin, Abdel Malik Petitjean, killed Father Jacques Hamel (85) in Normandy, was sent to face a judge yesterday with a recommendation from the prosecutor that he be charged with taking part in a "terrorist association with the aim of harming others".

Farid (30) hosted his cousin in his flat in Nancy in eastern France for a few days before the attack and "knew perfectly well" that Petitjean was about to carry out an attack, the prosecutor's office said.

He "was fully aware of his cousin's imminent violent action, even if he did not know the precise place or day", it added.

Farid is the only one of several suspects arrested after the attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray who is still in custody.

Petitjean and his co-attacker, Adel Kermiche, who was from Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, came into contact with each other for the first time just four days before the grisly attack, reports said yesterday.

Murdered

They contacted each other on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app popular with Isil supporters, on July 22, 'Le Parisien' newspaper said citing sources in France's anti-terror squad.

Four days later, they murdered Father Hamel on the altar of his church as he said Mass. Police are now trying to find out how and why the teenagers, who had pledged allegiance to Isil, got in touch and whether an intermediary introduced them and encouraged them to commit an act of terror.

Petitjean lived more than 400 miles away from Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

In a gesture of solidarity following the death of Father Hamel, Muslims attended Catholic Mass in churches and cathedrals across the country yesterday. More than 100 Muslims were among the 2,000 faithful who packed the cathedral in Rouen, near where Father Hamel was murdered.

"We extend a special welcome to our Muslim friends," Dominique Lebrun, Archbishop of Rouen, said in his homily.

Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, called for a new "pact" with the Muslim community in France. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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