Man broadcasts live on Facebook after killing police officer, mother

Posted at 9:25 AM, Jun 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-14 09:25:40-04

PARIS — The man who killed a French police commander and a woman broadcast the aftermath of the attack live on Facebook Monday night, a French source close to the investigation told CNN.

Larossi Abballa, a local man with a previous conviction for jihad recruitment activities, carried out the deadly knife attack in Magnanville, northwest of Paris, the source told CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.

He stabbed the commander to death before taking the officer’s partner and their 3-year-old son hostage at the couple’s house, French officials said.

During the Facebook broadcast, the child could be seen on a sofa behind Abballa, who told viewers he was not sure what to do with the boy. Some time later, French commandos stormed the house and killed Abballa, the source said.

The SWAT team was able to rescue the son, the French Interior Ministry said.

Abballa threatened the Euro 2016 football championship in a Facebook video posted from the scene of the attack, a police source told CNN.

Abballa, who had pledged allegiance to ISIS, said that the tournament currently underway in France “will be like a cemetery,” the source said.

Two people described as part of Abballa’s inner circle have been taken into police custody for questioning, a French police source tells CNN.

Conviction for jihadist activities

In the video, Abballa claimed he was responding to a call from senior ISIS leader Abu Mohammed al-Adnani for the terror group’s followers in Europe and the United States to carry out attacks during Ramadan.

The ISIS-linked A’maq agency reported that the killing was done by an “Islamic State fighter,” although there was no direct claim of responsibility.

Abballa had been convicted in 2013 for involvement in a jihadist recruitment network that sent fighters to Pakistan, the source told CNN.

French security services also suspected him of having links to a recruitment network for jihadists in Syria, the source said.

According to Magnanville Mayor Michel Lebouc, Abballa grew up in nearby Mantes-la-Jolie, which has a history of radicalization in its mosques. Magnanville is 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Paris.

Monique Fohrer, a local resident, described the standoff Monday night as “a war scene.”

“We didn’t think we were in Magnanville. We thought we were in a film, a bad film,” she told CNN.

Hollande: Undeniably an act of terrorism

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande said that the couple had been “assassinated by a terrorist.”

“It was undeniably an act of terrorism, both because the perpetrator — who was taken out at the scene, thanks to the quick reaction of the security forces — wanted it to be recognized as an act of terrorism, and the organization he had pledged his allegiance to also claimed the attack.”

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve described the killings as “an abject terrorist act.” He said flags would be flown at half-staff for three days and a minute’s silence observed by government workers at noon local time.

Tournament held amid state of emergency

The killings come as France is on high alert for terrorist attacks as it hosts the Euro 2016 soccer championship, which has been marred by outbreaks of violence between rival fans.

U.S. and British officials have both warned citizens about the potential terror risks of attending.

France has been under an official state of emergency since November’s ISIS terror attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. An ISIS cell connected to the Paris attacks then went on to strike in neighboring Belgium in March, killing 32 people in Brussels.

The same jihadist network responsible for those attacks sought to target the Euro 2016 tournament, ISIS terror suspect Mohamed Abrini told interrogators, according to a source close to the investigation.

The French government extended the state of emergency until the end of July to cover the Euro 2016 and Tour de France cycling race.

Law enforcement stretched

However, French authorities face a strain on resources in responding to the jihadist threat.

Following the Paris attacks, Hollande vowed to expand the government’s counterterror resources in response to ISIS, doubling the number of surveillance officers over five years to 10,000.

Intelligence officials have told CNN that it takes 15 to 20 staff to monitor a suspect around the clock — and France has about 11,000 people on its list used to flag radicalized individuals considered a threat to national security.

In comments Tuesday to CNN affiliate BFM-TV, national police spokesman Jerome Bonnet acknowledged the challenges police face with resources stretched by the terror threat, security for Euro 2016 and ongoing strikes and protests around the country.

“Police are fighting on several fronts,” he said.

“They are tired, but they have fuel for their action. … They love their job.”

CNN’s Sebastian Shukla, Margot Haddad, Hamdi Alkhshali, Nic Robertson, Lindsay Isaac and Milena Veselinovic contributed to this report.