Heroic French officer Arnaud Beltrame deserves respect and admiration of the whole world for his outstanding bravery and adherence to duty. United States President Donald Trump defined him as a “great hero.”
Born in Etampes, France, the lieutenant-colonel in the gendarmerie was shot by an Islamist gunman earlier this year when he swapped himself for a female hostage during a terror attack at a supermarket in Trebes, outskirts of the Picturesque medieval town of around 5,000 inhabitants in southwest France.
On March 24 a terrorist, Moroccan-born Redouane Lakdim who lived with parents and sisters in Carcassonne, claiming allegiance to Islamic State (IS) stormed the Super U store at around 11 a.m. with a hunting knife, handgun and three homemade bombs. Shouting “Allahu Akbar,” he demanded release of Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving jihadist who attacked Paris in November 2015 and killed 130 people.
The 25-year-old said his attack is a revenge for the international coalition bombing targets of Islamic State in Syria.
Before keeping a woman as a human shield and taking others hostage, Lakdim killed two people. Beltrame traded place with the woman and set his cell phone on so a contact with his colleagues outside could be established and they can hear his conversation with the attacker and monitor activity inside.
At 2:40 p.m. the Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale (GIGN) stormed the supermarket and killed Lakdim, but ahead of it the assailant stabbed and shot Beltrame. An autopsy revealed he had sustained four bullet wounds. He died in hospital from stab wounds to the throat.
Beltrame’s personal life
Beltrame was born as Arnaud Jean-Georges Beltrame on 18 April 1973 in Étampes, France. Reared in a nonreligious family, he was converted to Catholic Christianity at the age of 33. He married Marielle Beltrame in a civil ceremony in August 2016 and had a plan to have a church wedding in June 2018 at the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus. His interests included knowing Christian roots and learning history of France. His father died in August 2017 after getting drowned in the Mediterranean and body was recovered in the fishing boat nets just week before the Trebes supermarket attack.
In August 2017 Beltrame became a deputy commander at the Carcassone Departmental gendarmerie unit in southwestern France after post-graduate training in Business administration and Economy and being a staff service with the Ministry of Ecology.
Between 2010 and 2014 Beltrame took command of a Departmental Gendarmerie company in Avranches.
Between 2006 and 2010 Beltrame was stationed at the Dlysee Palace after joining Republican Guard, part of the national gendarmerie that provides guards of honor and security for the State.
In 2005 Beltrame was deployed to Iraq and in 2003 was selected for the elite gendarmerie parachute squadron (EPIGN).
Honors and recognitions
2009 – National Defence Medal (golden)
2007 – Cross for Military Valor (bronze star with brigade citation)
2012 – National Order of Merit (Knight)
2018, posthumous – Legion of Honor (Commander)
2018, posthumous – Médaille de la Gendarmerie nationale
2018, posthumous – Honor medal for courage and devotion
2018, posthumous – Medal for internal security
French-Moroccan Rdouane Lakdim shot occupants of a car, Renato Silva of Portugal and Jean Mazieres, in the outskirts of Carcassonne and hijacked the vehicle. He opened fire at a police barracks and wounded one police out of four before driving five kilometers to nearby Trebes. He stormed at a supermarket, when there were about fifty people inside, and killed two, a supermarket worker and a customer. He took to hostage at least one, as many managed to flee and some hid in a cold store, demanding release of only surviving suspect of Paris attack. Soon police in hundreds arrived, cordoned off the area and helped to evacuate people. Interior minister Gerard Collomb too arrived. After about three hours of stand-off he stabbed and shot Beltrame. Police stormed the building and killed him. Amaq News Agency, news outlet linked to the ISIS, named him a “soldier of the Islamic State.” French President called the attacks an act of Islamist terrorism. While neutralizing Lakdim an officer from GIGN team was hurt too.
The suspect of Trebes attack was identified as 25-year-old Moroccan born French-Moroccan Redouane Lakdim. In 2016 he had served one month in prison for pretty crime. Since 2014 he was on a suspected Islamist extremists watchlist. Even though he was under surveillance for radicalism, there were no signs that he would carry out an attack and take hostage. After his death police raided his home in Carcassonne, where he lived with parents and sisters, and interviewed neighbors. He was described as a “pleasant young man” by one of his neighbors. Another said he was a calm and nice man. Notes referring to Islamic State were found from his home.
Renato Silva of Portugal and Jean Mazieres
Jean Mazieres died while Renato Silva survived shots of Lakdim. Silva went into coma and on April 4 he came out of it, but suffered partial paralysis in the face and could not walk without being assisted. He became deaf in one ear. He lives in Villemoustaussou, Aude.
United States President Donald Trump condemned the attack and said, “we are with you @EmmanuelMacron!”
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered condolence to victims’ family members and friends.
Unite Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May said her country stood “in solidarity with our friends and allies in France, just as they always stand with us.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said Beltrame “fell as a hero” and showed “exceptional courage.”
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “The civilized world must unite and work together in order to defeat terrorism.”
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