December 12, 2018: Strasbourg Shooting: Terrorist attack shocks France’s famed Christmas market
December 12, 2018 | Brainwave Science
A gunman killed at least three people and wounded a dozen others at the famed Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg before fleeing the scene, authorities said. Three people were killed in the attack and 13 wounded, eight of them seriously. The Strasbourg gunman yelled “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic) as he opened fire on people enjoying an evening out at a Christmas market, the Paris public prosecutor told reporters.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said France had raised its security alert level to “emergency attack” with “the implementation of reinforced border controls and tightened controls on all Christmas markets in France to avoid the risk of a copycat” attack. The gunman, Strasbourg-born Cherif Chekatt, 29 was on a “S” security and terror watch list. Anti-terrorist prosecutors have opened an investigation. “Terrorism has once again struck our soil,” said Strasbourg prosecutor Rémy Heitz at a press conference on the following day. Mr. Chekatt has 27 previous convictions in Germany, Switzerland and France, and was placed on the terror watch-list while in prison in 2015 after he showed signs of radicalization. Four of the attacker’s relatives were also detained by police on Wednesday.
Questions were being raised over how the assailant had managed to evade capture. Police were due to arrest him for attempted murder after a botched armed robbery, but he had escaped, and a long rifle and stun grenade were found at his home. Police reported the attacker was shot and wounded by patrolling soldiers before he fled the scene. According to France Info, the suspect took a taxi driver hostage to escape soldiers. The driver reportedly escaped unharmed and said the gunman had a wounded arm. Mr. Chekatt justified his acts to the driver and said he had “shot at soldiers and killed ten people”, according to Mr. Heitz. While the hunt for the attacker goes on, France says it cannot “rule out” that a suspected terrorist has fled to neighboring Germany.
Christmas markets have been considered a terror target ever since the foiled terror attack in December 2000. The Al-Qaeda plot, in which a truck bomb was due to be detonated beneath the steps of Strasbourg cathedral, next to the market, has been described as blueprint for would-be attackers. The plot failed when British intelligence tipped off the French and German authorities after intercepting a call to the suspected paymaster in London.
France remained on high alert after a wave of attacks commissioned or inspired by Islamic State militants since early 2015, in which about 240 people have been killed. Fears of terror strikes had waned in recent months. Instead, the country has been more concerned about an ongoing nationwide “yellow vest” revolt as protesters call for lower taxes and higher wages.
In order for anti-terrorism agencies to figure out what goes wrong and how to fix it as soon as possible, they must remain one-step ahead of attackers who chose to exploit the very democratic system that gives them freedom from oppression of dictatorial regimes. How can counter-terrorism agencies combat individuals who are cunning and determined? They’ve been in combat and are careful not to stand out or give law enforcement an excuse to arrest them.
In follow-up on the 2015 Paris attacks, “We lack the most obvious tools to deal with this threat,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, chairman of the Paris-based Center for the Analysis of Terrorism. “We’re blind.” It is urgent that the European authorities combat terrorism head-on with the most advanced technologies available at their disposal to eradicate this problem of home-grown, self-radicalized terrorism before it takes more lives.
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In the most recent attacks in French city of Strasbourg, the authorities have confirmed that the suspect Cherif Chekatt was on a “S” security and terror watch list. Before the cops could apprehend him, he escaped. Terrorists have become smart they are adept with new technologies have also contributed to complication of problems faced by law enforcement agencies. While the law enforcement agencies in a country like France are bound by legal processes and are expected to refrain from infringement of rights and freedom of expression, the terrorists quadruple investigation challenges by use of encryption and the inability of law enforcement to get into locked cell phones.
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Source: BBC News