French intelligence services had been sent a picture of priest killer Abdelmalik Petitjean and were warned an attack was imminent four days before the Normandy church attack, it has been revealed.
In yet another shocking security lapse, the 19-year-old was left to kill Father Jacques Hamel, 85, in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray on Tuesday.
His photo had been widely distributed to police stations after the anonymous tip-off ‘from abroad’ on July 22. It was received with a colour photograph of Petitjean, and said he ‘was preparing to take part in an attack on national territory’.
The warning went on: ‘He’s already in France, and is preparing to act alone, or with others.’
While no names were contained in the warning, Petitjean was a French national from an Alpine town, where he was educated and well known to the police.
Both Petitjean and his accomplice, Adel Kermiche, also 19, were also on terrorist watch lists, and should technically have been under surveillance.
Kermiche even wore an electronic tag, but it had been switched for four hours every morning to allow him a break from probation conditions set when he left prison in March.
Police sources said the warning about Petitjean was received by Uclat, their counterterrorism coordination unit.
‘It was being acted upon, and everything was being done to track the terrorist down,’ said a source involved in the investigation into Father Jacques’ death