USB with details of French intelligence officers found in home of Paris knifeman

Daily Mail Online 1 month ago

French intelligence officers are 'living in fear' after USB sticks containing their personal details were found in the home of a jihadi knifeman who attacked the force's headquarters last week.

Mickaël Harpon, a 45-year-old IT department worker, stabbed four of his co-workers to death and badly injured a fifth during an attack last Thursday after he began following 'a radical vision of Islam'.

The discovery of the USB drives has led to fears that he could have used his job to extract the names and addresses of intelligence officers and send them other terrorists to carry out follow-up attacks.

The existence of the drives was revealed as Emmanuel Macron attending a ceremony to award the four slain officers the Legion D'honneur, France's highest honour, on Tuesday.

Emmanuel Macron (front left, back to camera) attended a solemn ceremony in Paris on Tuesday to honour the four French police officers stabbed to death in an attack on their headquarters last Thursday
Emmanuel Macron (front left, back to camera) attended a solemn ceremony in Paris on Tuesday to honour the four French police officers stabbed to death in an attack on their headquarters last Thursday
The remains of the four officers were carried out in flag-draped coffins before pillows were placed on top carrying the Legion D'honneur, which they were posthumously awarded by Macron
The remains of the four officers were carried out in flag-draped coffins before pillows were placed on top carrying the Legion D'honneur, which they were posthumously awarded by Macron
Four police officers were stabbed to death during the Paris attacks last week while a fifth was left badly wounded and is still in hospital (pictured, a ceremony to honour the dead in the French capital Tuesday)
Four police officers were stabbed to death during the Paris attacks last week while a fifth was left badly wounded and is still in hospital (pictured, a ceremony to honour the dead in the French capital Tuesday)
In his speech, Macron spoke of the need for 'the entire nation' to be ready to root out terrorists after it was revealed Harpon had expressed support for extremists as far back as 2015 but had not been reported
In his speech, Macron spoke of the need for 'the entire nation' to be ready to root out terrorists after it was revealed Harpon had expressed support for extremists as far back as 2015 but had not been reported
Macron wipes his face with a handkerchief after it began raining during a ceremony to honour four French police officers who were stabbed to death in an attack on the Préfecture de Police last week
Macron wipes his face with a handkerchief after it began raining during a ceremony to honour four French police officers who were stabbed to death in an attack on the Préfecture de Police last week

'We will wage an unrelenting fight in the face of Islamist terrorism,' Macron told a ceremony at the police headquarters where the attack took place. 

France must develop a 'society of vigilance' in its fight against the 'Hydra' of Islamist militancy, he added.

'The administrative services alone, and all the combined services of the state alone, will not be able to overcome the Islamist "Hydra",' said Macron, during the sombre ceremony held in pouring rain at the police headquarters near Notre Dame Cathedral.

Mickael Harpon, 45, had worked in IT at the department for 20 years, but recently converted to Islam and began expressing extremist beliefs
Mickael Harpon, 45, had worked in IT at the department for 20 years, but recently converted to Islam and began expressing extremist beliefs

'It's up to the entire nation, which needs to unite, mobilise and be ready to act,' added Macron.

It comes after it was revealed that Harpon - who converted to Islam 18 months ago - expressed extremist sentiments as far back as 2015 but was never properly investigated because his colleagues didn't file a report.

Harpon had defended the massacre of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper by two brothers vowing allegiance to Al-Qaeda. 

Investigators were continuing to search Harpon's home at Gonesse Tuesday, but sources told local media they are concerned about USB drives containing names and personal data of several dozen of his colleagues at the Préfecture de Police. 

They say it is not clear whether the data was extracted surreptitiously or was held as part of Harpon's regular duties, and it is also not clear whether it was passed to third parties.

However, prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard previously revealed that Harpon was in contact with members of the 'Salafist Islamist movement', raising the prospect that he could have been feeding the information to terrorists.

Yves Lefebvre, a police union spokesman, said: 'It's staggering as well as maddening. How was this person able to get through the net? This is amateurism that needs to be sorted out.

'We can't leave 1,000 intelligence officers at Paris police HQ continue living in such fear and uncertainty.' 

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who has faced calls to resign over his handling of the attack after initially saying it wasn't linked to terrorism, attends the ceremony in Paris
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who has faced calls to resign over his handling of the attack after initially saying it wasn't linked to terrorism, attends the ceremony in Paris
French Police officers attend a ceremony to honour four police officers killed by an extremist knife attacker in Paris last week
French Police officers attend a ceremony to honour four police officers killed by an extremist knife attacker in Paris last week
Police officers carry the coffin of one of their fallen colleagues during a ceremony at The Prefecture de Police de Paris
Police officers carry the coffin of one of their fallen colleagues during a ceremony at The Prefecture de Police de Paris
French President Emmanuel Macron stands at attention by the coffins of the four victims of the October 3 attack at Paris police headquarters
French President Emmanuel Macron stands at attention by the coffins of the four victims of the October 3 attack at Paris police headquarters

Harpon was shot dead following the rampage inside the historic Paris Police Prefecture, next door to Notre Dame Cathedral.

His wife, Iham, was arrested soon afterwards and told detectives that he had ‘heard voices’ and was ‘incoherent and suffered a dementia attack’ the night before.

She has since been released from custody, and has returned to the flat they shared in the Paris suburb of Gonesse.

Harpon and his wife were both registered as profoundly deaf and have two children aged nine and three.

He originally came from the French overseas territory of Martinique, and is believed to have spent time planning the worst loss of French police lives in a single day since World War II.

Harpon had converted to Islam 18 months ago, and his wife is also a Muslim who comes from an Arab background.

The nature of the attack corresponded with similar ones carried out by terrorists affiliated to ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

An investigation as now been launced to see if Harpon was in contact with other Islamists intent on death and destruction.

Colleagues described Harpon as a previously trusted employee who had full security clearance to work in the Prefecture’s IT department.

There have been calls for the resignation of Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who assisted at today’s ceremony, when the four dead officers received posthumous Legion of Honour medals.

Michael Harpon, 45, was shot dead following the rampage inside the historic Paris Police Prefecture, next door to Notre Dame Cathedral
Michael Harpon, 45, was shot dead following the rampage inside the historic Paris Police Prefecture, next door to Notre Dame Cathedral
Military personnel block the bridge near Paris Police headquarters after the knife rampage
Military personnel block the bridge near Paris Police headquarters after the knife rampage
The attack took place at the Paris police headquarters in the historic centre of the city, near the fire-ravaged Notre Dame cathedral
The attack took place at the Paris police headquarters in the historic centre of the city, near the fire-ravaged Notre Dame cathedral

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