Petty criminal known to French authorities but not deemed an immediate risk

Redouane Lakdim was added to a watchlist of people considered possible extremists in 2014.
Redouane Lakdim was added to a watchlist of people considered possible extremists in 2014.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP, REUTERS) - The gunman who killed four people, including a policeman, in southwest France on Friday (March 23) before being shot dead was a 25-year-old small-time drug dealer with a history of minor crimes.

The rap sheet against Redouane Lakdim, identified as a French citizen born in Morocco, eventually drew deeper scrutiny by investigators worried he was at risk of Islamic radicalisation.

In the summer of 2014 Lakdim, who lived in Carcassone, was added to a watchlist of people considered possible extremists.

"He was added to the list because of his radicalisation and his links with the Salafist movement" of ultra-conservative Islamism, Francois Molins, France's top anti-terror prosecutor, said at a press conference in Carcassonne.

He was found guilty of carrying a prohibited weapon in 2011 and later for drug use and refusing a court order in 2015, Molins said.

"In 2016 then in 2017 he was the subject of an investigation by intelligence services, an investigation which did not bring to light any sign that would indicate he would carry out a terrorist act," he said.

But when entering the Super U supermarket in nearby Trebes on Friday, Lakdim shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) and declared he was ready to die for Syria, and demanded the freedom for his brothers" before shooting a killing a client and an employee, Molins said.

Le Parisien newspaper reported that Lakdim lived with his parents, and quoted a neighbour saying he had dropped off one of his little sisters at school on Friday morning.

Another neighbour contacted by the paper described him as a "calm" and "nice" person who "always had a kind word to say", adding that he regularly attended a mosque.

Lakdim's trajectory appears to have followed a grimly familiar pattern in France over recent years of young men progressing from petty crimes into terrorism, often despite surveillance by the authorities.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters at the scene that he believed Lakdim had acted alone.

He said the gunman had "abruptly taken action", without apparent prior planning, despite authorities' surveillance.

"Every day we detect facts and foil new attacks. Alas, this one struck without us being able to counter it," Collomb said.