Ilan Halimi

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Ilan Halimi
Ilan Halimi.jpg
Ilan Halimi
Born (1982-10-11)11 October 1982
Died 13 February 2006(2006-02-13) (aged 23)[1]
Paris, France
Cause of death Injuries from torture
Occupation Cell phone salesman

Ilan Halimi (Hebrew: אילן חלימי‎‎) was a young French Jewish man of Moroccan descent[2] who was kidnapped on 21 January 2006 by a group called the Gang of Barbarians and subsequently tortured, over a period of three weeks, resulting in his death.

Personal life[edit]

Halimi was a cell phone salesman[3] in Paris. He lived there with his divorced mother and his two sisters.


Paris, Jardin Ilan Halimi, Sign
Ilan Halimi garden in the Jerusalem Forest.

It began when a girl (named "Emma") came to Ilan Halimi's workplace (a phone store in Paris) and started flirting with him. After exchanging phone numbers, Ilan comes home and decides he will give it a shot with that girl. Arriving at the rendez-vous point, Ilan understands too late this date was a trap. The day afterwards, and after hours when nobody had heard from him, his sister receives an emailed message containing a video showing Ilan gagged and tied up to a chair with his abductors threatening his life in exchange for money because in accordance with their words: "Jewish people have money".

For exactly 24 days, the 36 quai des Orfèvres of Paris (the high Police Department) will try vainly to understand the abductors, catch them and get Ilan back to his family. The importance of secrecy the police emphasized and the obviousness of this antisemite act that was not understood by them at that time, led to Ilan's undoing. The abductors, who called themselves the "Gang of Barbarians", tortured him and sent phone and video messages to his family while they were in contact with the police. During the 24 days of abduction, the leader of the gang called Youssouf Fofana, managed to travel back and forth to the Ivory Cost, his home country, with no trouble. There even was a time when he was suspected of being related to the gang and was taken to the police station, which later released him with no proof of him leading this group at that time. The demand for ransom, initially elevated at 450 thousand Euros, diminished as the abductor's hope to see the money fade away with the police managing the situation with the parents. Many people who lived nearby the basement where Ilan was tortured knew something wrong was happening, but did not take any action. Many said that they did not go to the police station out of fear and others said they did not want to intervene in a business that was not theirs.

After three never ending weeks of suspicions, investigations, hatred and threatening messages, the family and the police stopped receiving news from the captors. Ilan was taken naked, burnt on more than 80% of his body and with torture marks on February 13, 2006 and thrown away next to a road at Sainte-Geneviève-Des-Bois. He was found by a woman passing there, who immediately called for an ambulance. He died on his way to the hospital.

The lack of understanding the profoundly antisemitic nature of these actions against Ilan Halimi by the police department was one of the major reasons which made this rescue operation a catastrophe. For example, by wishing to keep this matter secret, and not awaking the Jewish community in France, the police department prevented the photofit of "Emma",[4] the girl who flirted with him, to be released which would have obviously helped in the investigation process. After his death, the investigation will prove that more than twenty people have taken part directly or indirectly in the abduction and torture of Ilan Halimi which led to his death, among them teenagers. Some will later claim they never knew what was the fate of that man, even Emma (who was seventeen at the time), will later send a letter to his family to say how sorry she was.

This tragedy brought the Jewish community to gather against antisemitism and racism in all its forms, but it has become evident since then that there is a true inner-questioning about whether they still belong there or not. A lot of them immigrated to Israel later that year.[4]

Ilan Halimi was initially buried in the Cimetière parisien de Pantin near Paris. The funeral in Paris drew a large Jewish crowd. He was reburied in Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem, Israel on February 9, 2007.[5] A garden in the Jerusalem Forest was named after him.


Paris demonstration in honor of Ilan Halimi and against antisemitism In 2006

Tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Paris, demanding justice for Halimi, on Sunday February 26, 2006.[6]

In May 2011, a garden in the 12th arrondissement of Paris was renamed after him. Halimi used to play in this garden as a child.

His mother (Ruth) published a book (written together with Émilie Frèche) about his case: 24 jours: la vérité sur la mort d’Ilan Halimi (Seuil, ISBN 978-2020910286) which gives the most harrowing story by the mother of the abducted, Ruth Halimi, who related all the events of the 24 days.

In late April 2014, a movie by French filmmaker Alexandre Arcady about this case was released. Entitled 24 Jours: La vérité sur l’affaire Ilan Halimi (24 Days: The Truth about the Ilan Halimi Case), it is based on the above-mentioned book.[7]


  1. ^ König, Yaël (March 20, 2006). "Entretien avec Ruth Halimi" (in French). Primo-Europe. Retrieved 2008-12-30.  External link in |publisher= (help) Archived May 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Fields, Suzanne (April 3, 2006). "The Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  3. ^ Tale of Torture and Murder Horrifies the Whole of France, Michel Gurfinkiel, The New York Sun, February 22, 2006.
  4. ^ a b Frèche, Emilie (2009). 24 Jours. France: Seuil. ISBN 978-2-02-091028-6. 
  5. ^ Trials and Tribulations, by Brett Kline, (c) JTA, The Jewish Herald, July 24, 2009, pp. 20-23
  6. ^ Article on the European Jewish Press website
  7. ^ Byron, Joseph (May 6, 2014). "New French film about the grisly murder of Ilan Halimi". European Jewish Press. Retrieved 2015-01-14.