French Counterterrorism Agency Fails to Communicate Crucial Information about Trèbes Attacker

By Hajare El KhaldiRabat – The head of the Moroccan counterterrorism agency has declared that France did not warn the kingdom about the Moroccan origins of the gunman responsible for the Trèbes attack, despite suspicion of potential radical ties.   The Director of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations, Abdelhak Khiame, told the U.S-based news agency the Associated Press on Tuesday that the bureau was not properly notified of the attacker’s radical positions.  This came as a surprise to the counterterrorism agency and the French authorities, who usually maintain an active information exchange about individuals with dual French-Moroccan citizenship. Although French authorities had been monitoring the attacker, identified as Radouane Lakdim, before Friday’s deadly incident, they failed to alert the Moroccan bureau.“His [Lakdim’s] country of birth should have been notified that its [a Moroccan] national was under surveillance by French security,” said Khiame.According to police investigations, the 25 year-old suspect of the attack in Trèbes was born in Morocco on April 11, 1992, but moved to France with his family in 2004 and consequently obtained French citizenship.Following the attack in Trèbes, the Moroccan counterterrorism agency investigated Lakdim’s family, but found no signs of alarming radical beliefs. Khiame added that throughout all of Lakdim’s visits and vacations in Morocco (the last of which was in 2012), the police never uncovered any suspicious evidence about him.French media and opposition politicians have put Moroccan authorities’ competence into question, considering that the suspect was being monitored, but went unnoticed. The French Counterterrorism prosecutor, Francois Molins, even stated that Lakdim has been on police’s radicalization watch list since 2014, and was still being monitored by French intelligence in the days up leading to the attack.  However, even the prosecutor maintained that the surveillance could not discern any signs of violent intentions or a desire to join the Islamic state extremist group, which claimed responsibility for the terrorist act.  Khiame has claimed that the counterterrorism agency has furthered its efforts to monitor Moroccans abroad in Europe and cooperate with European countries in identifying persons suspected of extremist religious beliefs. However, the French authorities evidently did same not exhibit the same degree of collaboration toward its Moroccan counterterrorism partnership.Lakdim’s 18 year-old partner, identified as Marine P., and one of his underage friends, have been held in police custody in order to “determine the origins of the gun the terrorist used, and the circumstances under which he [Lakdim] obtained the weapon, as well as eventual complicities.” On Tuesday, Marine P., who denied involvement in Lakdim’s plans, was preliminarily charged with associating with a criminal terrorist, while the perpetrator’s 17-year-old male friend was released due to a lack of evidence for the conviction. read more