'Never flagged as danger, travelled unimpeded': All you need to know about the Paris church attacker

4 weeks ago 11

The man behind the Paris church attack in France that killed three people, used to have small-time run-ins with the law as a teen. However, the 21-year-old Tunisian did nothing that alerted authorities in Tunisia to possible extremist leanings, reported Associated Press.

Paris church attacker was expelled from Italy

As per the report, the Paris church attacker Ibrahim Issaoui was served an expulsion order from Italy, which he reached illegally by boat. After that, he travelled apparently unimpeded to France.

Italy's interior minister, Luciana Lamorgese, told The Associated Press on Friday that Issaoui had not set off warning bells with Tunisian authorities or intelligence services.

She added that Italy's overburdened repatriation centers had no place for him, despite agreements with Tunisia governing the return of citizens who don't qualify for asylum in Italy.

“Obviously, we give precedence to people who are signalled by law enforcement or by Tunisian authorities,'' Lamorgese told AP.

“The number of spots are not infinite, and he could not therefore be placed inside a repatriation center.''

The spokesperson for Tunisia's anti-terrorism prosecutor's office, Mohsen Dali, said Issaoui is not classified as being a terrorist element to the security and judicial authorities.

“During his teenage years, he was involved in common law cases for violence,” he told AP, without elaborating.

He led a normal life, says mother

Issaoui's mother told investigators that he led a normal life for someone of his age, Dali said. He drank alcohol and wore ordinary clothes. He started praying two years ago, but did not have any suspicious associates, he said, according to AP.

According to Tunisian media, Issaoui grew up in a family of 10 children in Sfax, an important economic hub in southern Tunisia, and worked as a mechanic in a workshop for a monthly salary of 300 dinars (less than 100 euros). He then opened a vegetable stall in a shop that also sold gasoline illegally, Dali told the AP.

He decided on September 14 to try to enter Italy illegally, having failed in a previous attempt.

He arrived in Italy's southernmost island of Lampedusa on September 20, and was transferred to Puglia, where he was quarantined for the coronavirus on a ship with some 800 other migrants. His expulsion order was dated October 9.

“Then we know he remained in Italy a few more days, then went on his way to France,'' Lamorgese said, adding that it was not clear when he crossed the border.

“The French border controls are very serious, but evidently this time he slipped through and managed to enter French territory."

He is believed to have travelled first to Paris, with Tunisian officials saying he arrived in Nice the day before the attack.

Authorities in both Italy and Tunisia are cooperating with France on the investigation.

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