ISIS-inspired Terrorist Attack in the South of France

Super U Trèbes (Twitter account of The Crime Terror Nexus@CrimeTerror, March 23, 2018)

Super U Trèbes (Twitter account of The Crime Terror Nexus@CrimeTerror, March 23, 2018)

Incitement to ISIS supporters abroad: “Your knife is the cure” (Poster found on Telegram by the Beit Al-Massader website, which monitors ISIS’s propaganda material, December 27, 2017)

Incitement to ISIS supporters abroad: “Your knife is the cure” (Poster found on Telegram by the Beit Al-Massader website, which monitors ISIS’s propaganda material, December 27, 2017)

ISIS’s claim of responsibility (Haqq, March 24, 2018)

ISIS’s claim of responsibility (Haqq, March 24, 2018)

Overview
  • On March 23, 2018, a terrorist carried out an ISIS-inspired shooting and bargaining attack in a village near the city of Carcassonne in the South of France. Four people were shot to death in the attack, three of them when the terrorist took control of a supermarket in the village of Trèbes near Carcassonne. Another 15 people were wounded by the terrorist. The perpetrator of the attack is a Moroccan Frenchman from the city of Carcassonne named Redouane Lakdim, 25, who has a criminal record. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. This is the first ISIS-inspired attack in France since the stabbing attack in Marseilles (October 1, 2017) and the seventh in Western countries and Russia in the past six months.

The attack in the South of France demonstrated that even after the collapse of the Islamic State and the transformation of ISIS into a terrorist and guerrilla organization fighting for its existence in Syria and Iraq, the ISIS brand is still highly attractive, as is its Salafi-jihadi ideology and the vision of the Islamic Caliphate. Despite the change in its nature and the blows that it has sustained, ISIS continues to see itself as a global jihad organization whose activity extends beyond the core countries of Syria and Iraq. This is reflected, inter alia, in the incitement campaign aimed at Muslim communities worldwide, which ISIS continues to conduct through its recovering media outlets. Muslims continue to be influenced by ISIS’s ideology and to carry out ISIS-inspired attacks in their countries of residence, with an emphasis on Western countries (for details see Appendix[1]).

Incitement to ISIS supporters abroad: “Your knife is the cure” (Poster found on Telegram by the Beit Al-Massader website, which monitors ISIS’s propaganda material, December 27, 2017)
Incitement to ISIS supporters abroad: “Your knife is the cure” (Poster found on Telegram by the Beit Al-Massader website, which monitors ISIS’s propaganda material, December 27, 2017)

Poster with the inscription: “O Muslim in the West, you have a disease and your knife is the cure. Rise up against the infidels and shock them […]” (Posters found on Telegram by the Beit Al-Massader website, which monitors ISIS’s propaganda material, December 27, 2017)   Poster with the inscription: “O Muslim in the West, you have a disease and your knife is the cure. Rise up against the infidels and shock them […]” (Posters found on Telegram by the Beit Al-Massader website, which monitors ISIS’s propaganda material, December 27, 2017)
Poster with the inscription: “O Muslim in the West, you have a disease and your knife is the cure. Rise up against the infidels and shock them […]” (Posters found on Telegram by the Beit Al-Massader website, which monitors ISIS’s propaganda material, December 27, 2017)
The shooting and bargaining attack in the city of Carcassonne and the village of Trèbes[2]
  • Robbery and shooting at police in Carcassonne: The attack began in the city of Carcassonne, when the terrorist commandeered a parked vehicle, shot the passenger to death, wounded the driver and took the car. While driving the car, the terrorist fired at four policemen, seriously wounding one of them.
  • Taking hostages in the village of Trèbes:
    • The terrorist drove to the village of Trèbes (about 8 km east of Carcassonne). He entered a supermarket shouting “Allahu Akbar” and “revenge for Syria.” The terrorist was armed with a pistol, a knife, and possibly IEDs. As he entered, he shot a customer and an employee to death. Dozens of people in the supermarket fled and about 20 people hid in a refrigeration room behind the supermarket.
    • The terrorist seized a hostage but accepted gendarmerie officer Arnaud Beltrame’s offer to change places with her. After the exchange was made, the police officer left his mobile phone on so that the security forces could monitor what was happening inside the supermarket. The gendarmerie officer, who became a hero in France, was wounded and died of his injuries when a special police force broke into the supermarket. The force shot and killed the terrorist.
    • The demand of the terrorist who barricaded himself in the supermarket: The terrorist demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, who took part in the deadly ISIS attack at the Bataclan Theater in Paris (November 2015, 89 dead). Abdeslam, born in Molenbeek, the notorious jihadi suburb of Brussels, handled the logistical side of the terrorist attack in Paris and was apparently also supposed to take part in it (an explosive belt that apparently belonged to him was found in a garbage can in a neighborhood in southern Paris). Abdeslam fled to Belgium, was caught in the Molenbeek district of Brussels and is now imprisoned in France.
The French police request from the public for help in finding Abdeslam (Twitter account of the French police, November 15, 2015)   Salah Abdeslam, whose release was demanded by the perpetrator of the bargaining attack in Carcassonne (Nabd Al-Nahda, March 19, 2016).
Right: Salah Abdeslam, whose release was demanded by the perpetrator of the bargaining attack in Carcassonne (Nabd Al-Nahda, March 19, 2016). Left: The French police request from the public for help in finding Abdeslam (Twitter account of the French police, November 15, 2015)
Initial information about the terrorist who carried out the attack
  • Redouane Lakdim, a 25-year-old Moroccan Frenchman, lived with his mother and four sisters in an apartment in the city of Carcassonne, in the South of France. Like other perpetrators of ISIS-inspired attacks, Lakdim also had a criminal record. In 2016, he was imprisoned for drug trafficking. He was very active in online jihadi forums and was considered a security threat by the French security services.

Redouane Lakdim, perpetrator of the shooting and bargaining attack in the village of Trèbes(Haqq, March 24, 2018)
Redouane Lakdim, perpetrator of the shooting and bargaining
attack in the village of Trèbes(Haqq, March 24, 2018)

ISIS’s claim of responsibility
  • On March 23, 2018, the day of the attack, ISIS’s Amaq News Agency issued a claim of responsibility. The wording of the claim of responsibility (which is a known text[3]): “A security source told the Amaq News Agency: The perpetrator of the attack in Trèbes, in the South of France, was a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the operation in response to the call to attack the Coalition countries” (Haqq, March 24, 2018).

ISIS’s claim of responsibility (Haqq, March 24, 2018)
ISIS’s claim of responsibility (Haqq, March 24, 2018)

Appendix
ISIS-inspired attacks abroad since the fall of the Islamic State

In the past six months, the rapid collapse of the Islamic State accelerated until the fall of the city of Albukamal, its last stronghold (November 2017). In this six-month period, seven attacks were carried out abroad (together with the latest terrorist attack in Trèbes). All the attacks were ISIS-inspired attacks and were carried out in five countries (most of them Western countries). Two of the attacks were stabbing attacks, two were ramming attacks, two were IED attacks, and one (the latest) was a combined shooting and bargaining attack. Following is a description of the attacks.

  • Attack in Marseilles, France: Two female passersby, aged 17 and 20, were stabbed to death at the main train station in Marseilles on October 1, 2017. The stabbing terrorist, a 29-year-old Tunisian, was shot and killed by French soldiers who were patrolling outside the train station. People at the station testified that the man shouted “Allahu Akbar” before attacking the two women. The stabber’s motives are as yet unknown. A French police source told the media that the incident was apparently a terrorist attack (Reuters, October 1, 2017). ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • Attack in Edmonton, Canada: On October 1, 2017, a man in his thirties carried out a ramming attack at two different sites in the city of Edmonton in the Province of Alberta, Canada. A police officer and four civilians were wounded. The incident began when a policeman was rammed by a van. The policeman was wounded. The assailant then came out of the van and threatened passersby with a knife. He fled the scene of the attack and was chased throughout the city. In downtown Edmonton, he drove the van onto the sidewalk, wounding four civilians. The van overturned and the terrorist was arrested (AP, October 1, 2017).
  • Attack in New York City, USA: On October 31, 2017, a ramming attack was carried out on a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan. Eight people were killed and 11 others were wounded while riding bicycles or walking on the path. The attack was carried out with a rented pickup truck. Five of the dead were Argentinian citizens who were visiting New York City, and another was a Belgian citizen. Eyewitnesses said that the driver drove quickly toward the bicycle path, hitting passersby and cyclists. The truck then turned onto a street where it hit a school bus. After the collision, the driver got out of the truck, waving “rifles” (which later turned out to be an air rifle and a paintball rifle), and was shot by the police. He was wounded and taken to the hospital. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • Attack in New York City, USA: On December 11, 2017, an attack was carried out in an underground passageway between subway stations in central Manhattan. An IED, amateurishly prepared from household materials, exploded on the body of the terrorist (possibly as a result of a “work accident”). The terrorist was seriously wounded and three passersby were slightly wounded. The terrorist was arrested. The terrorist who carried out the attack was inspired by ISIS. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • Attack in St. Petersburg, Russia: On December 27, 2017, an IED containing shrapnel (with an estimated strength of about 200 grams of TNT) exploded in a supermarket located in a large shopping mall in St. Petersburg. A total of 18 people were wounded in the blast. Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Commission of Inquiry described the incident as a “terrorist attack” (Kremlin website, December 28, 2017; Russian Commission of Inquiry website, December 31, 2017). Around two days after the explosion, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • Attack in Melbourne, Australia: On February 9, 2018, an ISIS-inspired stabbing attack was carried out. The attack was carried out by Momena Shoma, a 24-year-old Bangladeshi student who had come to Melbourne to study. Prior to her arrival in Australia, Momena had attended North South University in Bangladesh. A few days after her arrival, Momena stabbed the owner of the apartment where she was staying in the neck and shoulder while he was sleeping, severely wounding him. According to the Australian police, the attack was inspired by ISIS and the stabber had no accomplices.

[1] In addition to the ISIS-inspired attacks in Western countries and Russia, in the past six months, there have been terrorist attacks in several of ISIS’s provinces in Arab and Muslim countries. The most prominent of these are the ISIS Province in the Sinai Peninsula and the Khorasan Province, which is behind a wave of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
[2] According to media reports, updated to March 25, 2018.

[3] This wording was used by ISIS in its claim of responsibility for the stabbing attack in Marseilles, October 1, 2017.