The latest news from the Telegraph
The gunman who shot dead a policeman on the Champs Elysees in Paris in an apparent Isil-inspired terror attack before being killed has been named as French national Karim Cheurfi.Authorities earlier revealed Cheurfi – who was jailed for 20 years for trying to kill officers in 2001 – had been under preliminary investigation for terrorism and was detained two months ago but “let go”.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) claimed responsibility and identified the attacker as one of its soldiers, naming him as Abu Yousif, a Belgian. It was highly unusual for Isil to both take responsibility and name the perpetrator so soon after an attack. The man’s gun, thought to have been a Kalashnikov, was described as a “war weapon”. According to a source close to the investigation a note praising Isil has been found near the Champs Elysee shooter. Josie Ensor, our Middle East Correspondent, has noted that the fact the jihadist group claimed the attack in record time could suggest it was an Isil directed, rather than inspired, attack.
Cheurfi had been detained in February for questioning in a police station in Meaux, outside Paris, after “informants” had indicated that he was “seeking to obtain weapons to kill policemen”, according to reports. But due to a lack of evidence, anti-terror prosecutors “let him go”.
Cheurfi was known by intelligence services for radicalisation and had targeted police 16 years ago in a car chase, when he opened fire on officers, according to reports. During questioning, he managed to get hold of a police weapon and fire five times. The policeman survived, but Cheurfi was sentenced to several years in prison for the attack.
Today officers raided his home in an eastern suburb of Paris and detained three members of his family.
This morning the presidential candidates Marine Le Pen, Francois Fillon and Philippe Poutou all seized on Thursday night’s killing.
Le Pen, widely seen as taking the hardest line on security, called for France to “immediately” take back control of its own borders from the European Union and deport all foreigners on a terror watchlist. “This war against us is ceaseless and merciless,” she said in a sternly worded address, blasting the “monstrous totalitarian ideology” behind Thursday night’s attack.
Macron, a 39-year-old moderate whom other candidates have portrayed as too inexperienced to protect France against the terror threat, warned against any attempts to use the attack for political gain. “I think we must one and all have a spirit of responsibility at this extreme time and not give in to panic and not allow it to be exploited, which some might try to do,” he told French radio.
Extraordinary attack on Marine Le Pen from Bernard Cazeneuve, the Socialist prime minister.
“The Front National candidate, just like every attack seeks to divide and manipulate. She is shameless trying to exploit fear and emotion to exclusively political ends,” Mr Cazeneuve said. “Nothing, no element of the inquiry, no intelligence enables us to make any link whatsoever between immigration and asylum and what happened last night in Paris. For all of the French this attack is a tragedy. Ms Le Pen is seeking to turn it into an opportunity – a mediocre electoral opportunity that flouts the truth.”