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Both attackers had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), stating their motives during the attack and in a video recorded beforehand that was posted by the ISIS Amaq news agency, which called the pair its "soldiers."Kermiche, a 19-year-old who grew up on an estate in the town, had attempted to enter Syria twice in 2015.
Authorities released him from prison in March and he was under surveillance, forced to wear an electronic tag and on probation at the time of the attack.
It is unclear how he met Kermiche but he had told his family he was leaving their home on Monday to see a cousin in the northeastern city of Nancy, before he appeared in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray to carry out the attack.
His mother told AFP that his last text message read: "Don't worry, everything is fine...
I love you."Days later, Petitjean would appear in an ISIS video released by Amaq after the attack but recorded before, posing with an ISIS sign and holding hands with Kermiche while both declared their support for Baghdadi's radical Islamist group.
That the French security services had prior knowledge of Petitjean's radicalized view of the world, and potential plans to carry out an attack in the country, shows the scale of the intelligence failure in preventing the murder of Hamel, says Dr.
July 28, 2016, Alastair Jamieson and Nancy Ing, “France Church Attack: Abdel-Malik Petitjean Was Known Potential Radical,” NBC News, July 28, 2016,
While Hamel bled to death on the floor, Petitjean and Kermiche forced one of the hostages, Guy Coponet, to record the two assailants chanting what the victims described as an Arabic sermon before stabbing him in the hip and throat, leaving him seriously wounded.
July 28, 2016, survivor tells of Rouen priest’s jihadist murder,” BBC News, September 26, 2016, Euan Mc Kirdy, “Second French church attacker identified,” CNN, July 28, 2016,
French intelligence only had an image of Petitjean, with the counter-extremism unit UCLAT sending the photograph to different police units four days earlier on July 22, reading that the man "could be ready to participate in an attack on national territory."It added that the unidentified person "could already be present in France and act alone or with other individuals.
The date, the target and the modus operandi of these actions are for the moment unknown," according to a UCLAT flyer obtained by the Associated Press.