Monday 16 September 2019

Strasbourg gunman supported Isil, says dad

The Strasbourg Christmas market. Photo: FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images
The Strasbourg Christmas market. Photo: FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images

Chris Baynes

The father of the gunman who embarked on a deadly shooting spree at a Christmas market in Strasbourg has said his son was an Isil supporter.

Abdelkrim Chekatt said Chérif Chekatt (29), believed the Islamist terror group was "fighting for a just cause". A total of five have died and 12 others were wounded in the gun attack on Tuesday.

Chekatt escaped but was cornered by French police and shot dead in the Neudorf area of the city following a huge two-day manhunt. His parents and two brothers were among seven arrested as police investigated whether others were involved in the attack.

The four family members have since been released "due to the lack of incriminating evidence at this stage", the Paris prosecutor's office said.

Speaking to the TV channel France 2, Abdelkrim Chekatt denied knowing his son was planning the shooting and said he had tried to discourage his extremist beliefs. "He'd say, for example, that Daesh is fighting for a just cause," he said, using the Arabic acronym for Isil. "I told him: 'Forget about Daesh, don't listen to what they say. Don't you see the atrocities they commit? Beheadings, burning people alive.'"

Isil's propaganda wing has described Chérif Chekatt as a "soldier", but French authorities say there is no evidence the group was involved in the attack. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Isil's claim of responsibility was "totally opportunistic".

But Chekatt was on French security services' watch list for radicalism and had 27 criminal convictions for offences in France, Germany and Switzerland.

Investigators are trying to determine whether he had accomplices in the Christmas market attack. The three other people arrested, who are not family members but were close to Chekatt, remain in custody. (© Independent News Service)

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