French killer data shows IS links, as victims honoured

President Emmanuel Macron and interior minister Christophe Castaner honour the victims today

USB sticks belonging to police killer Mickaël Harpon contained Islamic State (IS) videos and data on his colleagues, police have said, as it is announced that his victims are to receive la Légion d'Honneur.

USB data storage sticks found at the home of Mr Harpon - who fatally stabbed four police workers on Thursday October 3, and was himself shot dead by a police officer - contained propaganda videos from Islamic State, investigators have found.

The sticks also contained personal data and details of dozens of Mr Harpon’s longtime colleagues.

It is not yet clear why Mr Harpon had these details, and if they were connected to his work or to his attack, or whether he intended to share them with others. Investigations are continuing.

According to Jean-François Ricard, anti-terrorist prosecutor, police have so far “been able to establish links between the perpetrator and several individuals who appear to belong to the Salafist Islamic movement”.

Before the fatal attack, Mr Harpon had worked in IT at the police department since 2003. He was born on the French island of Martinique, before converting to Islam more than ten years ago.

In the past 18 months, he is said to have shown “slight signs” of radicalisation, including changing his style of dress, becoming reluctant to interact with women, and justifying the 2015 terrorist attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Victims honoured

The updates come as it is confirmed that the four victims of the attack, along with the police officer who finally shot the attacker dead, are to receive la Légion d'Honneur - France’s highest order of merit.

At 10h40 today (Tuesday October 8), interior minister Christophe Castaner will award the merit to the victims, after which President Emmanuel Macron will honour them with a speech at 11h, in the prefectural courtyard.

Minister for justice Nicole Belloubet and army minister Florence Parly will also be present. Mr Macron will then meet with the victims’ families in private following the ceremony.

The victims’ names and posthumous honours were recorded in today’s Journal Officiel.

They are:

  • Damien Ernest, major of a local police force, with 28 years of service
  • Aurélia Trifiro, peacekeeper, with 17 years of service
  • Anthony Lancelot, peacekeeper, with 11 years of service
  • Brice Le Mescam, deputy head administrator, with six years of service

  

Police officer recognised

The police officer who shot the attacker dead after the incident will also receive the honour at a later date, the Élysée has confirmed.

At just 24 years of age, he had only worked at the prefecture for six days prior to the attack.

He was in the courtyard when Mr Harpon appeared, and despite repeatedly asking Mr Harpon to drop his weapons, the attacker continued to run at him, forcing the officer to shoot.

He shot twice, killing Mr Harpon on the spot.

The officer, who has requested to remain anonymous, also requested that his honour be given at a later date, and not at the same time as the victims.

La Légion d'Honneur is France's highest honour (Photo: 
Yahoo Actualités / @YahooActuFR / Twitter)

The attack has prompted political critics to ask how Mr Harpon was able to “fly under the radar” and remain undetected in his Islamic radicalisation, despite working for the police terrorism unit itself.

Opposition ministers have dubbed the incident “a scandal”.

Interior minister Mr Castaner has admitted that the case shows “dysfunction” in some areas, and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has already announced plans to introduce further measures to detect signs of radicalisation earlier.

At the weekend, Mr Philippe 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.

“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.”

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