Thousands pay tribute to Stéphanie Monfermé on April 26 in Rambouillet. Still from YouTube

Rambouillet terrorist was regularized without any scrutiny

In the wake of the murder of Samuel Paty, the Tunisian jihadist involved in the Rambouillet beheading wrote on Facebook: “O Muslims, now we will respond to the insults from France.” Two months later, he obtained his residence permit.

Published: May 3, 2021, 10:13 am

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    Four months before the attack in Rambouillet, the Prefecture of Val-de-Marne had issued a residence permit to the murderer Djamel Gorchene. Before awarding such a privilege, the services of the prefecture must verify that the person does not constitute a “menace to public order”. In his case, there had been no alert. And this in spite of the troubling messages that Gorchene had posted on Facebook.

    How did the Prefecture of Val-de-Marne come to regularize an undocumented person who had been spreading radical propaganda on social media?

    Djamel Gorchene, a Tunisian national who tried to behead a policewoman at the police headquarters of Rambouillet (Yvelines), had been issued a temporary residence permit on 28 December 2020, well after the first alarming messages had surfaced on his online profiles. Anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-François Ricard also emphasized that the attacker had revealed on his public Facebook account, “an adherence to an ideology legitimizing violence against those who have offended the Prophet”.

    These messages — to which French magazine Marianne gained access without difficulty — were visible to all. Beginning in April, 2020, Gorchene only posted prayers and Quranic verses, while closely following the radical sermons of Sheikh Ali-al Qaradawi, a 72-year-old Qatari close to the Muslim Brotherhood.

    A few days after the beheading of Samuel Paty, he justified future violence on social media. “O Muslims, now we will respond to the insults from France and Macron against our Prophet Mohammad”.

    It has also emerged that the Rambouillet terrorist was regularized within the framework of the “Valls circular” under the discretionary power of the prefect of Val-de-Marne

    Gorchene, born in Sousse in October 1984, even cheated to obtain his regularization ten years later . To do this, the man took advantage of the so-called “Valls circular”, named after the former Minister of the Interior in the leftist government of Jean-Marc Ayrault, who subsequently became the Prime Minister of François Hollande.

    Until November 28, 2012, Tunisian nationals without papers could only be regularized on a humanitarian basis. From 2012 onward, Tunisians who had entered the national territory of France illegally were able to benefit from regularization “by virtue of the discretionary power of the prefect”. It is precisely this legal provision which was applied to the one who would eventually become the assassin of Stéphanie Monfeture, French magazine Le Point reported.

    Gorchene had entered France illegally in 2009. Then, in 2019, he had benefited from an exceptional authorization to stay as an employee by presenting an employment contract for an indefinite period. In December 2020, he finally obtained a residence permit valid until December 2021, according to the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office (Pnat).

    The 36-year-old jihadist also lied about his real address.

    As highlighted by Le Point, Djamel Gorchene made his request for regularization with the prefecture of Val-de-Marne. However, he had lived in Rambouillet in the Yvelines since 2015. The address provided was that of a couple who had no doubt hosted him on his arrival in France. The prefecture of Val-de-Marne did not even verify the validity of the address of residence of Djamel Gorchene.

    The whole small town has been in turmoil since the assassination of the policewoman, a 49-year-old mother, and the terrorist’s neighbours are still in shock. Le Parisien reported that Gorchene’s father lived in a quiet little street. The neighbours still cannot believe that the terrorist had been plotting the murder of Stéphanie a stone’s throw from their home.

    Philippe, 52, remembers how he discovered the images of his street live on BFMTV: “It was crazy! The police were crisscrossing the neighbourhood, there were RAID men everywhere… ”. Seated in front of the killer’s house, he and his 21-year-old daughter Léa remember a few particularly noisy evenings in the building and a burnt-out car parked for several months in the parking lot opposite the building. But they would never have thought that the farmhouse of this hamlet known for its tranquility was home to a killer. “It’s freaking me out, we necessarily must have run into him once,” Léa said.

    For Frédéric, 45, the shock is also huge. “My wife and daughters took the bus with him! They recognized him in the photos. A neighbour like all the others the inhabitants thought. That makes you think!” he said, still stunned.

    Stéphanie Montferme’s funeral was held on Thursday April 29 in the strictest privacy but in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron. Thousands of people from the town had gathered earlier to pay tribute to the victim.

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