France plans anti-radicalisation after police attack

"It is our responsibility to...close the holes in the net,": the PM was speaking to newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche

The Prime Minister of France has announced plans to introduce measures to better detect signs of radicalisation among anti-terrorist police, after the attacks that killed four police workers this week.

Edouard Philippe announced the plans in an interview with newspaper le Journal du Dimanche this weekend.

He said: “For all intelligence services, the detection of internal threats is an absolute priority. In particular, any sign of radicalisation should not be overlooked, nor remain without a response."

The first set of measures will focus on intelligence agency la Direction du Renseignement de la Préfecture de Paris (DRPP). The attacker had worked there for 16 years - since 2003 - as a computer expert before the attack.

These will examine the current procedures in place to detect radicalisation among staff. The results are expected by the end of the month.

The second set of measures will focus on the country’s wider anti-terrorism services, with conclusions expected by the end of the year. These will aim to ensure that any staff member causing concern is noticed and evaluated.

Mr Philippe said: “People will tell me that ‘zero risk’ does not exist, and that is true. But it is our responsibility to not accept this as default, and to always close the holes in the net.”

The measures come three days after four staff members at the police prefecture in Paris were fatally stabbed by one of their colleagues.

The dead were three police officers, and one administrative worker. Another worker was severely injured.

The attack was one of "extreme violence", said national anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-François Ricard, in a press conference yesterday (Saturday October 5).

Reports after the incident said that the perpetrator - named as Mickaël Harpon, aged 45 - had “followed a radical version of Islam” in recent years, and had had contact with radicalised Islamic individuals before the incident.

Following the attack, he was shot dead by another police officer, after the officer asked him to drop the knife. When he did not, and instead ran towards the officer, Mr Harpon was shot.

The investigation into what have now been confirmed as “murder and attempted murder” charges has been handed to anti-terrorist agents.

Mr Harpon reportedly sent 33 text messages of a “religious” nature to his wife before the attack, ending on the words “Allahu Akbar” and “Follow our beloved prophet Muhammad and meditate on the Koran”.

He is said to have converted to Islam around 12 years ago, and started following a more radical version of the religion in recent months, including changing his clothing style from Western clothes to traditional Islamic, mosque attire; and becoming reluctant to speak or interact with women.

He reportedly also expressed justification for the Islamist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris in 2015.

Mr Harpon, who was born on the French island of Martinique - and had been left deaf after contracting meningitis - had no previous criminal record; but had appeared in court on domestic violence charges in 2009.

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