Strasbourg attack: What is France’s ‘S-file’ terror watch list?

More than 25,000 people suspected of potentially posing a risk to national security are on France’s ‘S-file’ terror watch list, nearly half of whom are believed to be Islamist radicals.

The list is divided into 16 grades, according to the assessed level of risk for each suspect. The highest-risk individuals are graded S1, the lowest S16.

Those on the watch list are not automatically placed under surveillance, but the authorities may carry out surveillance or intercept their phone calls or communications without obtaining a court order. Being on the S-file list is not a cause for arrest.

Chérif Chekatt, the suspect in the Strasbourg attack, was placed on the list in 2015.

Several attacks in France have been carried out by men on the S-file list, sparking demands for closer surveillance. Right and far-right politicians have called for all foreign nationals on the list to be deported. Some have demanded that all those on the list be interned.

Police say it is impossible to keep all those on the S-file under round-the-clock surveillance because 20 officers are required to monitor a single individual.

Mohammed Merah, the gunman who killed seven people including two Jewish children in a series of attacks in southern France in 2012, was on the S-file.

Other terrorists who were on the watch list when they perpetrated attacks in France include:

— Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, two brothers who attacked the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in 2015, killing 12 people.

— Larossi Abballa, who killed a police couple at their home in 2016.

— Redouane Lakdim, who killed four people in March in attacks at a supermarket in Trèbes, southern France, and in nearby Carcassonne.

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