Yesterday a man who was well known to French authorities opened fire on the annual Christmas Market in the northeast city of Strasbourg. The shooter, identified as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt murdered four and wounded eleven more during a series of attacks before escaping.
Prosecutor Rémy Heitz told a press conference the anti-terrorist unit was called into action “because of the area targeted, the operating mode used by the assailant and his profile . . . and the testimony of bystanders that heard him shouting ‘Alluha akbar’”.
Officials said the suspect was known to intelligence services as a potential security risk prior to the horror that unfolded in the French city on Tuesday evening.
Chekatt is believed to have been wounded by police before hijacking a taxi and escaping. He’s still on the loose, a subject of a massive manhunt that probably extends across the border into Germany.
As yet another “known wolf”, the Strasbourg shooter joins a long list of other terrorists who struck while being on law enforcement radar. There was Sayfullo Saipov in New York City, Ahmed Hassan in London, Salman Abedi in Manchester, Anis Amri in Berlin and Karim Cheurfi in Paris.
To be fair, we never hear of the attacks that may have been prevented by the world’s vast intelligence and law enforcement agencies, but their failures certainly seem to be frequent and spectacular. The disarmed populaces of the world’s social democracies — New York included — put their trust in these officials to protect them in exchange for giving up their right to protect themselves via strict gun control laws and prohibitions on legal carry.
As for Chekatt, authorities appear to have been moving in on him . . .
Earlier on Tuesday, he gave police the slip when they went to arrest him in connection with an attempted murder. He was not home but a stun grenade, a rifle and ammunition along with four knives, two of them hunting knives, were found in a search of his apartment.
When the suspect began shooting in the city centre just before 8pm on Tuesday, police quickly identified him as the same man they had been looking to arrest.
Laurent Nuñez, the secretary of state for the interior ministry, said the failed arrest might be one reason for the attack.
(Public prosecutor Rémy) Heitz said the man walked through several streets “at the heart of the Christmas market” shortly before 8pm. “All along this route he opened fire several times with a handgun and used a knife with which he seriously injured and killed.