The ISIS knifemen who stormed into a church in Normandy filmed themselves butchering an elderly priest after forcing him to kneel – before they performed a ‘sermon in Arabic’ at the altar, a terrified witness has revealed today.
The 84-year-old priest, named as Jacques Hamel, had his throat cut in a Normandy church this morning in an attack that also left a nun critically injured and both jihadis dead.
The two killers, who were both known to French authorities, were shot dead by police marksmen as they emerged from the building shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’. The building was later searched for bombs.
French president Francois Hollande, who visited the scene today, said the country is ‘at war’ with ISIS after the terror group claimed responsibility for the brutal attack.
One of the extremists who stormed into the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen during mass was a French 19-year-old named Adel K., who was being monitored by electronic tag after twice attempting to join fanatics in Syria. Unbelievably, his bail terms allowed him to be unsupervised between 8.30am and 12.30pm – the attack happened between 9am and 11am.
Adel K is understood to have forced the priest to kneel while his accomplice, who also lived locally and was on a terrorist watchlist, filmed the brutal killing.
This afternoon it emerged that the murdered clergyman was deputising while the regular parish priest was on holiday. A third man, a 17-year-old known as HB and believed to be a relative of Adel K, was arrested at his home in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray following the attack.
It was also revealed that the Catholic church involved was on a terrorist ‘hit list’ found in the apartment of a suspected ISIS extremist last April.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a ‘merciless’ response to the killing while ‘horrified’ ex-Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said he feared ‘everything is being done to trigger a war of religions’.
A nun who was in the church during the attack said the priest was forced to the ground before his throat was slit.
‘They forced him to his knees. He wanted to defend himself. And that’s when the tragedy happened,’ said the nun, identified as Sister Danielle. ‘They recorded themselves. They did a sort of sermon around the altar, in Arabic. It’s a horror,’ she told BFM television.
ISIS has already claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement published by its Aamaq news agency. It said the killing was carried out by ‘two soldiers of the Islamic State.’ It added the killing was in response to its calls to target countries of the US-led coalition which is fighting ISIS.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said this afternoon that one person has been detained in the investigation but gave no details on the identity or location.
French President Francois Hollande, visiting the scene of the attack, appealed for ‘unity’ in France, where political blame-trading has poisoned the aftermath of the Nice truck attack, the third major strike in the country in 18 months. source