News & Politics

France's Fatal, Willful Blindness

A photo of Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Europe’s unaccountable rush to collective suicide claimed another victim Friday when Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame was killed in an incident with yet another Islamic gunman, offering himself as a hostage and then dying in the ensuing shootout.

Arnaud Beltrame, a French police officer who willingly took the place of a hostage during a standoff with a rampaging gunman Friday in France, died of injuries suffered in the incident early Saturday. His bravery earned him recognition as a hero in a country that has been shaken by a number of terrorist attacks in recent years.

Beltrame, 44, was a lieutenant colonel in the gendarmerie, a part of the French military that focuses on domestic policing. He had previously been decorated for his bravery during operations in Iraq and spent four years in the early 2000s in France’s Republican Guard, protecting the Elysee Palace in Paris. On Saturday evening, the Elysee Palace announced that Beltrame would receive a national honor for “giving his life to protect our fellow citizens,” according to reports in French media.

All well and good — the man is a hero. But what was yet another Moroccan “immigrant” doing floating around France — especially one who had (of course) already attracted the attention of the security services?

Authorities say Redouane Lakdim, 25, hijacked a car Friday near the town of Carcassonne in Aude, killing a passenger and wounding the driver. Lakdim also shot at a group of police officers on their morning jog, wounding one of them. In the nearby town of Trèbes, the gunman then stormed into a supermarket and took hostages.

Beltrame was one of the first officers to respond, authorities said. Police negotiated with Lakdim to release the hostages, and Beltrame offered himself in place of the final one. Inside the supermarket, Beltrame tried to negotiate with Lakdim. He left his cellphone active on a table to allow authorities outside to listen in. When police heard gunshots, they stormed the building and fatally shot Lakdim. Three other people were killed and several others were injured during Lakdim’s rampage.

Here’s some information on the “soldier of Allah”:

The 26-year-old was of Moroccan descent and lived with his parents and several sisters in an apartment in Carcassonne raided on Friday afternoon, Le Parisienreported. A neighbour told the newspaper he was ”calm” and “nice” , saying he regularly attended his local mosque. Lakdim dropped his sister off at school on the morning of the massacre, they added.

Correction: he wasn’t of “Moroccan descent,” he was a Moroccan Arab living in France. But such a nice boy!

He was known to the police for petty drug dealing, but was on a “watchlist” of suspected extremists and had been under surveillance. Interior minister Gerard Collomb described him as a “radicalised petty criminal and small-time drug dealer”. He said it was not clear whether he was a committed radical, adding: “It was more of a petty criminal who at a certain moment decided to act.”

Act on what? And why? One guess. Until Europe stops expecting European standards of behavior from the Arabs of North Africa, and starts expecting them to act exactly the same way they do in their home “countries,” this will continue to happen.