French security services are today facing troubling questions as to how they failed to prevent an ISIS Muslim terrorist slaughtering one policeman and wounding two other officers when he was already on a terror watch list.
The Champs-Elysees terrorist – identified as Karim Cheurfi – had been detained only last month, it has emerged, after informants said he was ‘seeking to obtain weapons to kill policemen’.
But the 39-year-old, who used the war name ‘Abu Yousuf the Belgian’, had to be released because anti-terror police did not have enough evidence to hold him.
The homegrown terrorist, who officials confirmed was a French national despite his nickname, had also been released early from prison – where it is thought he was radicalized – having been jailed for 20 years in 2005 for trying to kill two policemen.
Cheurfi opened fire five times with a .38 revolver following a car chase in 2001, leaving the officers and a third victim wounded.
He had fled on foot before the driver of the other car and the passenger – a trainee police officer – caught up with him. He fired twice, seriously wounding both men in the chest. All three survived the attack in Roissy-en-Brie, in the Seine-et-Marne department of northern France.
Cheurfi was arrested and placed in custody under a false name. Two days later he seriously injured an officer who was taking him out of his cell, seizing his weapon and firing several times.
Two French officials said this morning that Cheurfi was detained in February for threatening police before being freed, although a warrant for his arrest is dated March 6.
Over the past few months he had reportedly been undergoing psychiatric and terrorist investigations for uttering death threats against law enforcement officials.
The ISIS terrorist is believed to have been released in 2016 following the triple assassination attempt, at a time when he was known for drug offences, car theft and robbery.
It has been claimed Cheurfi was making dark threats on messaging app Telegram before launching his attack on the Champs Elysees in Paris last night.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the atrocity, which was carried out with a Kalashnikov weapon. A female foreign terrorist was also injured when a bullet ricocheted off the police car before Cheurfi was shot dead.
The terror attack unfolded as presidential candidates, including National Front party leader Marine Le Pen, debated on a TV show nearby before Sunday’s election.
French President Francois Hollande said he was convinced it was a terrorist attack, adding that he would hold a security cabinet meeting this morning.