President Emmanuel Macron has today hailed the hero police officer murdered by an ISIS terrorist as the symbol of the ‘French spirit of resistance’ .
Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, 44, was stabbed in the throat and shot repeatedly after taking the place of a female hostage during the siege in Trebes, east of the popular medieval tourist city of Carcassonne, last Friday.
Today, his coffin was carried in a procession from Paris’ Pantheon to a ceremony at Hotel des Invalides, where he was posthumously awarded the Legion of Honor for his bravery.
In his eulogy to the murdered cop, President Macron said: ‘The name of his attacker will be forgotten, but the name of Arnaud Beltrame will live on.’
French President Emmanuel Macron leans at the coffin of Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame, with his posthumoua Legion of Honor lyinf on top of the French flag at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris
In honour: Officials of the French gendarmerie nationale and French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, pictured bottom and centre, hold a minute of silence for Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame at the Interior Ministry in Paris.
True hero: A portrait of Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, who was stabbed and shot by an ISIS-terrorist during a siege at a supermarket when he swapped himself for a female hostage last Friday
French President Emmanuel Macron stands in front of the flag-drapped coffin of Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame, after paying tribute to the brave police officer in Paris today
Eulogy: French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a national ceremony for Lt. Col Beltrame, whose coffin stands draped with the national flag, at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris
The French leader vowed to ensure ‘he will not have died in vain,’ ,’ urging the nation to be vigilant in the face of an ‘insidious’ jihadist threat.
‘His example will remain etched in French hearts,’ the president told hundreds gathered in the rain at the historic Hotel des Invalides military museum and hospital in central Paris.
‘To accept to die so the innocent can live: that is the essence of what it means to be a soldier,’ he said, comparing the policeman’s sacrifice to those of France’s World War II heroes.
‘Others, even many who are brave, would have wavered or hesitated.
‘We are not just fighting terrorist groups, the armies of Daesh and imams who preach hate and death,’ Macron said, using another name for the Islamic State group.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron leave after the ceremony
French President Emmanuel Macron reviews troops of Republican Guards and cadets from the joint-army military school ahead of the national ceremony for Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris
President Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe stand in silence during the ceremony at the Hotel des Invalides
French Republican Guards and cadets from the joint-army military school carry the coffin during the ceremony at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, France
French Republican guards carry the flag-draped coffin of Lt. Col. Beltrame during the ceremony at the Hotel des Invalides
Lt. Col. Beltrame will be awarded the Legion of Honor posthumously by President Emmanuel Macron today
France is also facing a form of ‘underground Islamism’ that ‘corrupts on a daily basis’, he said, blasting it as ‘an insidious enemy which requires renewed vigilance and civic-mindedness from every citizen’.
Three former presidents, Francois Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Valery Giscard d’Estaing, were also in attendance at the ceremony, as well as several senior politicians.
Today’s national homage includes a minute’s silence in French police stations and myriad events in schools that both honour Lt. Col. Beltrame’s memory and provide a focal point for national grief after last Friday’s killing spree.
Some 2,000 high school students and scores of police attended the Paris event that began as gendarmes sang the French revolutionary anthem the Marseillaise in the stone courtyard of the French Interior Ministry.
Also present today is his wife, Marielle. The couple were devout Catholics, and were married by a priest as Lt Col Beltrame lay dying in hospital on Saturday.
Lt Col Beltrame reportedly kept a picture of himself and Marielle in his hat, and the family have said the hat, with the picture in, will rest with him in his coffin.
A convoy of French Republican Guards escorting the coffin of late Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame transported by car during a funeral procession arrives for a national ceremony, at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris
Former French Presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Minister of Ecological and Social Transition Nicolas Hulot wait prior to a national tribute for Colonel Beltrame at the Hotel des Invalides
French President’s wife Brigitte Macron at the Hotel des Invalides ahead of the ceremony in honour of Lt. Col. Beltrame
Politicians and Parisians attend a national ceremony at the Hotel des Invalides in honour of the hero policeman
French far left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, second right, waits with French feminists Caroline Autain, left, prior to a national ceremony for Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame, at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris
Beltrame, a member of the gendarmerie military police force, died offering to take the place of a female checkout worker whom attacker Radouane Lakdim was using as a human shield.
Lakdim, who claimed allegiance to ISIS, had already shot dead the passenger of a car he hijacked in nearby Carcassonne, before driving to the supermarket and killing two more people there.
Beltrame hoped to be able to negotiate with the 25-year-old, but Lakdim stabbed him in the throat and the officer died of his wounds the next morning.
It has now emerged that a full five bullets were fired from Lt. Col. Beltrame’s Sig Sauer 9 mm service pistol after three hours in captivity.
The evidence points to a struggle with Lakdim after the terrorist discovered that the policeman was carrying a gun.
A total of four men were murdered in the attacks around Carcassonne before Lakdim himself was gunned down by special forces GIGN police.
Hundreds braved the rain in to wait for the hearse transporting the coffin containing the body of Lt. Col. Beltrame in Paris
People gather to watch as the coffin of the late Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame is transported by car during a funeral procession leaving the Pantheon as part of a national tribute
Police on motorcycles escort the coffin of the late Lt.Col. Beltrame transported by car during a funeral procession leaving the Pantheon as part of a national tribute in Paris, France
Speaking on Wednesday, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb confirmed the security services were about to reduce the surveillance on Lakdim, who was on a radicalization watch list.
‘Ultimately no one thought that there would be a hasty attack,’ he said.
Lakdim’s girlfriend was also on police radar. Investigating judges on Tuesday filed preliminary charges of criminal terrorist association against the woman, identified only as Marine P., according to a judicial official.
The prosecutor said the girlfriend denied involvement in Lakdim’s plans. But Molins said she posted online a Quran verse ‘indicating that infidels were promised to hell’ just a few hours before the attack.
Lt. Col. Beltrame had left his phone on inside the supermarket after taking the place of a woman checkout assistant identified only as Julie.
In honour: French gendarmes hold a minute of silence in Carcassonne, southwestern France
Rrspect: French Gendarmes attend a ceremony in tribute of Beltrame at the Gendarmerie Nationale Headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris , France
Cadets from the joint-army military school and police officers gather prior to a national ceremony for Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris
Tributes are pictured in front of barracks of the gendarmerie on March 28, 2018 in Carcassonne
This enabled colleagues to hear what was going on inside the shop, right up until gunfire signalled the fight.
A source close to the enquiry into the bloodbath said ‘it took place in a store room, and five spent cartridges from the Sig Sauer were found near Arnaud’s body’.
Lakdim’s own 7.65mm pistol was found with an empty cartridge, alongside a bloodstained machete.
Lt Col Beltrame was trained at the elite St-Cyr military academy before starting a brilliant career which included service in Iraq, and guarding the Elysee Palace in Paris.
His funeral will take place in the south of France on Thursday, along with that of the other three victims: Herve Sosna, Jean Mazieres and Christian Medves.
‘WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD ABOUT TERRORIST’, SAYS MOROCCAN FBI
Terrorist killer: Radouane Lakdim, 26, murdered four people during his killing spree in southwest France last Friday
The head of Morocco’s counterterrorism agency said that France should have alerted his country about Radouane Lakdim, how had dual French-Moroccan citizenship.
‘We were not notified about Lakdim’s radical background,’ Abdelhak Khiame, director of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations, told The Associated Press.
Khiame called the absence of communication with France, a close Moroccan ally, an apparent ‘misunderstanding.’
‘His country of birth should have been notified that its national is wanted by French security,’ Khiame said in his bureau’s headquarters in Sale, near Morocco’s capital, Rabat.
Lakdim was born in Morocco in 1992 but went soon afterward to France with his family, and became a French citizen in 2004.
French officials did not immediately respond to Khiame’s concerns.
Khiame’s agency, considered as Morocco’s FBI, helped European authorities identify and investigate suspects in the attacks in Barcelona last year and Paris in 2015.
Since Friday’s attack, Khiame said, his agency has investigated Lakdim’s family members in Morocco but found ‘no sign of radical beliefs.’
‘During all of his family visits and vacation time in Morocco, Lakdim never raised suspicions of local police,’ he added.
Khiame said Lakdim’s last visit was in 2012, before the establishment of the Islamic State extremist group, which claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack.
He said the increase in the number of Moroccans becoming IS fighters has raised alarms at his agency. Moroccans make up a large subset of IS foreign fighters – a total of 1,664 people at the agency’s last count. Dual Moroccan-European citizens were notably behind IS attacks on Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016.
Khiame said his agency has stepped up monitoring of Moroccans in Europe, and ‘multiplied its discussions with European countries to identify Moroccan nationals suspected of radical beliefs.’