A Muslim teenager, Adel Kermiche, has been identified by French authorities as one of the two terrorists who murdered an elderly priest on Tuesday. The attack also left a nun in critical condition.
Both attackers were shot dead by anti-terror police units as they ran outside the sanctuary shouting “Allahu Akbar!” According to French police, one had three knives and a fake explosives belt; the other carried a kitchen timer wrapped in aluminum foil and had fake explosives in his backpack. French President Francois Hollande said ISIS carried out the attack.
The priest killed was Father Hamel. He was described by parishioners as gentle, humble, and modest. He was 86-years-old.
According to a nun who witnessed the attack, the two terrorists entered the church during morning mass. One of the terrorists forced the priest to kneel at the alter before cutting his throat. The nun said the terrorists said a prayer in Arabic while standing at the altar. She said they recorded the killing on video, and that they had made parishioners gather together in the church.
Kermiche was described as being the son of a professor who was raised in a housing project. He became radicalized and tried twice to reach ISIS in Syria through Switzerland and Istanbul but was caught in Turkey and prosecuted in France for terrorism in 2015. However, he was released March 22 on electronic monitoring, reported BHMTV in France, and he was allowed to be unsupervised for four hours during the day; the French priest was murdered during that time frame.
Christians on Twitter are calling the slain priest a martyr and an Italian politician has suggested that Pope Francis consider the priest for sainthood.
Kermiche was 19. The second terrorist has not be identified.