No one would believe this in a Hollywood script, but this daring escape of a dangerous gangster took place in real life this weekend in France. And it wasn’t the first time that Redoine Faid has embarrassed French prison officials. Besides doing a 25-year stretch for murder, Faid had a 10-year sentence for a previous prison break at the time of this audacious operation:
The first time Redoine Faid escaped from prison five years ago, he blasted his way out with explosives.
He was caught, locked up and given more time behind bars. But on Sunday, he managed to escape again — by hitching a ride on a hijacked helicopter.
Faid, one of France’s most notorious criminals, was serving 25 years in prison for his role in a failed 2010 robbery that resulted in the death of French police officer Aurélie Fouquet. He was also given 10 years for his brazen 2013 prison escape, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
NBC News has more of the details of the escape:
Dressed all in black, two commandos wearing ski masks and police armbands entered the prison to look for Faid. They used a grinding machine to open the door to the visiting room, Martial Delabroye, a representative of the guards’ union, told BFM television.
The commandos used smoke canisters to hide from video cameras, and the helicopter touched down in the only part of the complex that was not covered by anti-helicopter netting, said another union member, Loic Delbroc.
When the chopper arrived, Faid was meeting with his brother in the visiting room. Police took the brother into custody.
Faid threw his own brother to the wolves? Let that be a lesson for future fellow conspirators. They weren’t hard-core enough to kill the hostage, though:
French media reported that the three men took the pilot hostage at a flying club in the Paris region. He was later released with no physical injuries.
The helicopter was found burned in the town of Garges-les-Gonesse, in the northern suburbs of Paris. The police union said Faid entered a car in a nearby parking lot, which is where police lost track of him.
How did the perpetrators manage to plan this out? For one thing, French officials admit that they spotted drones doing surveillance over the prison a few months ago. Whether that prompted tighter security will certainly be a question that Emmanuel Macron’s government will have to answer, but a more specific question is why anti-helicopter netting wasn’t extended across the prison before now, especially after the drones got spotted. Where Faid came up with the money for this elaborate plot might be another question, although it might be from his book sales as a supposedly reformed gangster:
Faid, who has a cult following in the tough immigrant suburbs outside Paris, where he grew up, has made several television appearances.
Faid was freed in 2009 after serving 10 years. At the time, he swore that he had turned his life around, writing a confessional book about his life of crime and going on an extensive media tour in 2010.
The money trail might interest investigators, as this was no improvisational effort. It might help pinpoint where Faid plans to hide out, although one possibility might be … Israel, believe it or not:
In the 1990s, he led a gang involved in robbing banks and armored vans. He was arrested in 1998 after three years on the run in Switzerland and Israel, according to French media reports. Faid wrote in a 2010 autobiography that while in Israel he disguised himself as an ultra-Orthodox Jew and learned Hebrew to escape police.
It took police several weeks to find Faid hiding in a suburban hotel near Paris the last time he escaped. This time, Faid’s probably going to run for the borders and look for a way out of the EU.