France has once again been hit by a terrorist attack. This time, a gunman named Redouane Lakdim, a 26-year-old of Moroccan ancestry, hijacked a car near the city of Carcassonne and took several hostages at gunpoint at a nearby supermarket. Prior to taking his hostages, French Police officials say that Lakdim killed two different people at different locations before driving to Trebes. All told, the French government has reported that sixteen people were injured due to Lakdim's attacks.

Lakdim's assault began on Friday morning in Carcassonne. There, Lakdim shot and killed the passenger and injured the driver of the hijacked car.

Lakdim's next victim was a police officer who was wounded while out for a job. Another police officer, who volunteered to replace one of the hostages at the Super-U grocery store in Trebes, is currently fighting for his life after being severely wounded by the terrorist. The officer is said to be a 45-year-old man who is a serving lieutenant colonel in the French Gendarmerie.

By all appearances, Lakdim was motivated to carry out his attacks by extremist Islam. Eyewitnesses, at the Super-U, claim that he rushed into the store saying, "I am a soldier of Daesh [Islamic State]!" Police officials also claim that Lakdim sought the release of Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving terrorist from the November 2015 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. Currently, Abdeslam is being held in Belgian custody.

Petty criminal

Spokespeople for the French government in Paris have told the media that Lakdim was known as a petty criminal, but was not known to have any jihadist sympathies. In particular, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb revealed that Lakdim had previously been arrested for dealing drugs. French news magazine Le Parisien reported that Lakdim did associate with Salafist prisoners while incarcerated in Carcassonne in 2016. Salafism is a strict, hard-line branch of Sunni Islam that has often been blamed for "radicalizing" Muslim youth in Europe and North America. European prisons, which include a high percentage of criminals of Muslim background, have also been singled out for helping to foster terrorist cells.

Unverified reports also claim that Lakdim may have journeyed to Syria at some point in the recent past. The investigation into Lakdim is ongoing, with French police officers reviewing the contents of Lakdim's apartment in Carcassonne.

State of emergency

Lakdim's attack is far from the first time that jihadist terrorists have struck in France.

In October last year, ISIS claimed responsibility for the murder of two women stabbed to death in Marseille. A year before that, ISIS claimed responsibility for the murder of Catholic priest Jacques Hamel, 85, in the Norman town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. Of course, the two deadliest attacks occurred less than a year apart. In July 2016, Tunisian national Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel used a stolen van to kill 86 people in Nice on Bastille Day. The aforementioned November 2015 attacks saw ISIS-affiliated terrorists using guns and suicide bombs to murder 130 Parisians.

Top anti-terrorism official Francois Molins said in November of last year that approximately 690 French nationals were fighting on behalf of ISIS and other jihadist groups in the Middle East. Molins also warned that 398 known ISIS veterans had already returned to France. Making matters all the more terrifying for many French citizens are the demographic projections showing that France will be a Muslim-majority nation within forty years.