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Man in failed attack on Paris police lived in German shelter for asylum seekers

As reported by police, the Islamist extremist who staged a failed attack on a Paris police station last week had been living in a shelter for asylum seekers in western Germany

The fears that radical extremists may be creeping into Europe disguised as asylum seekers grows, reports Anthony Faiola for The Washington Post.

“The revelation that the assailant had been trying to pass himself off as an asylum seeker is likely to spur further debate about the vetting and processing of hundreds of thousands of migrants from the war-torn Middle East seeking sanctuary in Europe. The man had assumed several aliases and at one point claimed to be from Syria, according to police in Germany,” introduces Faiola.

The suspect was fatally shot on the first anniversary of terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo by French security forces as he drew near the police station wearing a fake explosives vest and wielding a butcher’s knife. It was reported earlier that several attackers in the Nov. 13 extremist assaults in Paris have allegedly used the same routes that are typically used by economic migrants and refugees. At least two assailants involved in the deadly incident have entered Europe posing as refugees from Syria.

Following an advice from French government, German police investigated a Recklinghausen asylum center; it was reported that one of the attackers of the last week’s incident have lived. The suspect had claimed an asylum under a fake name, the fourth in a row of his fake registrations. Police reports that apparently the suspect ploughed a lonely furrow since there was no evidence that anyone was involved into planning attacks.

Faiola continues: “Police released a photograph of the attacker and asked members of the public to share any information they have. Authorities said that between May 2014 and November 2015, the man had been charged with arms and drug violations, theft, and slander of a sexual nature. Criminal proceedings had been launched against him for allegedly drawing flags of the Islamic State militant group — which asserted responsibility for the Paris attacks in November — and displaying them in the refu­gee shelter. But the proceedings were discontinued.”

French officials have identified the suspect as a Tunisian man named Tarek Belgacem. Authorities have reported that on his body was discovered a piece of paper with an ISIS flag and a note affirming responsibility of the crime. The assailant also had a cell phone with a German SIM card.

“The news that the man had claimed asylum in Germany comes as this nation is reeling from a spate of New Year’s Eve assaults and robberies targeting women in cities such as Cologne, Hamburg and Stuttgart. On Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel — who has maintained one of the most welcoming policies toward refugees in Europe — said she would back new laws aimed at quickly deporting asylum seekers and refugees who commit criminal offenses,” Faiola assumes.

Among 516 crimes committed so far in Cologne by sexual offenders there was an attempt to steal the cellphone from a woman on New Year’s Eve. Police report that the suspect was of Moroccan origin who had a criminal record dating to January 2013.

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