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April 2018 Hero of the Month: French Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame

Rarely does a single act of courage move a nation and the world as we witnessed last week in France. The sacrifice and the loss of French Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame is both inspirational and depressing at the same time because he was such an incredible person.

Arnaud died of his wounds after being shot in the throat by an Islamic terrorist/ Moroccan immigrant in the small town of Trebes, France. The terrorist had first hijacked a car, shooting and seriously injuring the driver and killing the passenger, then shot several members of the Gendarme as they played soccer and then went into a supermarket and took several employees and customers as hostages. Arnaud was the first police officer on the scene and offered to trade places with one of the hostages to spare her life. For that, he was eventually shot by the Jihadist during the four-hour hostage crisis that ensued.

While the French government in particular should be embarrassed that this terrorist was still living free in France after being under surveillance for radicalism and proximity to Islamic Salafist organizations in France for two years, it does prove once again that letting people like him stay in your country just postpones rather than eliminates terrorist attacks against innocent civilians because the police forces in every country are stretched too thin to effectively “monitor” such individuals. (There are thousands of such individuals in Britain and an equal number in France on so-called “watch lists” for already established connections to extreme Islamic organizations or confirmed expressions of support for “Jihad.” For an informative report on the impossible manpower challenges involved in monitoring such radical Islamic immigrants, see BBC News Magazine June 2, 2013: it would take 50,000 full time police officers to monitor just 2,000 suspects.)

But for now, while politicians dawdle, it is appropriate to honor Arnaud.

He was born 44 years ago in Brittany. He graduated from France’s elite Saint-Cyr military academy in 1999 with special praise for his “resolute spirit when faced with adversity.” His superior officers noted that he was prepared to “fight to the end and never give up.” He was a member of both the French national police force and a reservist in the French Army. As a police officer he was admitted into the elite unit (GIGN) whose missions included counter-terrorism and hostage rescue. In the Army, he spent two years in Iraq and received a military cross for bravery during the challenging combat of “The Surge” in 2007. He then spent the next four years as part of the Palace Guard protecting the French President and then two years as a special adviser to the Secretary general of France’s ecology ministry.

After offering himself for the hostage swap, Beltrame knew from his training to leave his cellphone on, enabling police and special forces outside the supermarket to hear what was going on. As a result, when the terrorist near the end of the four hour ordeal said he was going to kill the hostages, they were able to storm the market and save others from certain death, and they killed the terrorist.

All told, four were killed and fifteen seriously injured during that fateful day.

Arnaud was airlifted to a hospital but eventually succumbed to his wounds. However, he was able to survive long enough to marry his partner, Mariele, in a bedside ceremony. They had planned to wed in June.

French President Emmanuel Macron, shown here at Arnaud Beltrame’s
flag-draped coffin, posthumously awarded Beltrame the Legion of Honor,
France’s highest award

. . .

Western civilization needs tougher policies and effective solutions, not more senseless murders of the brave and the innocent. That is what Arnaud and the other victims of this attack deserve above all else. — Jim

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