A local Muslim leader says one of the men who attacked a Normandy church was on French police radar and had travelled to Turkey.
Mohammed Karabila, president of the Regional Council of the Muslim Faith for Haute-Normandie and head of the local Muslim cultural centre, told the Associated Press that “the person that did this odious act is known, and he has been followed by the police for at least a year and a half.”
He said the attacker “went to Turkey and security services were alerted after this.” He had no information about the second attacker.
The attackers slit the throat of an 85-year-old priest, Fr Jacques Hamel, before being killed by police. Their identities have not been released.
Karabila, who is in charge of the mosque in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, said he was “appalled by the death of my friend” in reference to Fr Hamel.
“I do not understand, all of our prayers are with his family and the Catholic community,” he said.
“This is someone who has given his life to others. We are stunned at the mosque,” he added.
According to AFP, the priest and the imam met several times and were part of an inter-faith committee for 18 months.
“We discussed religion and manners together,” Karabila said.
The mosque in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray was inaugurated in 2000 on a plot of land donated by the Catholic parish of the city.