France in Free Fall

Strasbourg, France. Christmas market. December 11th, 8pm. A man shouting, “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is the greatest”) shoots at passersby, then wounds several with a knife. He murders three people on the spot and wounds a dozen others, some severely. Two will later die of their wounds. The murderer escapes. Two days later, the police shoot him dead.

He was known to the police. When members of the General Directorate of Internal Security and some gendarmes came to his home a few hours earlier, he had escaped. Although they knew he was an armed and dangerous Islamist ready to act, and that Christmas markets had been, and could be, likely targets, no surveillance was in place.

The murderer, Cherif Chekatt, should, in fact, have been kept off the streets. He was 29 years old, his name was on the list of people reported for terrorist radicalization (FSPRT), and he and had already been sentenced for crimes 27 times. He was nevertheless roaming around free, with no police oversight.