|Picture Credit: Screenshot from Video on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/Ew2oyrr7eVk|
A Gangster and Jailbreaker Extraordinaire
Rédoine Faïd is a real-life French gangster and serial jailbreaker. He came from Creil (in Northern France), where he was born in 1972 to Algerian immigrant parents. By 2013, he was France’s most wanted criminal.
In the mid-1990s, Faïd and Jean-Claude Bisel led a criminal gang responsible for armed robbery, jewel theft, and extortion in the Paris area.
In 1997, seven of eight accused were tried for these crimes (the eighth having fled to Algeria).
Faïd spent three years as a fugitive on the run in Switzerland and the Palestinian Territories before being arrested in 1998. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison but was released on parole after serving ten years.
In his autobiography, Faïd claimed to have disguised himself as an Orthodox Jew and learned Hebrew while in Israel, where an Israeli soldier taught him firearms skills.
Faïd, is a fan of gangster films, which he credits with teaching him how to pull off raids. BBC News reported that Hollywood movies, such as the Al Pacino thriller Scarface, inspired his lifestyle and some of his schemes, such as mimicking Robert de Niro’s gang in the film Heat.
Faïd the Escape Artist
Faïd had been sentenced to prison in 1999 after three years on the run for an attack on an armoured car but was paroled a decade later. It was during this time that he was linked to an armed robbery in 2010 when 26-year-old French police officer Aurélie Fouquet was killed. In July 2011, Faïd was taken back into custody for failing to comply with the terms of his release and ordered to serve out the remainder of his previous prison sentence. Faïd was later convicted of masterminding the robbery in which Fouquet was killed and, after an appeal, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Faïd is notorious in France for two widely-publicised jailbreaks:
- In July 2018, he broke out of Réau Prison (South of Paris) with the help of two accomplices who used smoke bombs and angle grinders to make their way into the facility’s visiting room – after first disembarking from a hijacked helicopter that had landed in the prison’s courtyard. The helicopter had been hijacked from a nearby airfield by criminals posing as flight school students. At gunpoint, the flying instructor was forced to participate in the escape. Police found the helicopter north of Paris, and arrested Faïd three months later (reportedly with his brother and two other men) in Creil, his hometown.
- In April 2013, Faïd used explosives to blow open gates and took four wardens as hostage to escape from Sequedin Prison in northern France. One of the wardens was released just outside the prison, another a few hundred metres away, and the final two were left by a motorway. All were said to be in shock but unharmed. Faïd escaped in a getaway car, which he burned in Lille and completed his escape in another vehicle. Faïd was arrested the following month. In March 2017, he received a 10-year sentence for that prison break.
Faïd, an infamous Robber, and celebrated Author
Faïd wrote that he found his “calling” at the age of 12, having, he claimed, already stolen candy from a supermarket at the age of six.
In 2009, he wrote a book, Braqueur – Des cités au grand banditisme (translated: Robber – From the Projects to Organized Crime) about growing up in a life of crime in Paris’ banlieues (a suburb of a large city) and claimed to have given up a life of crime. Contra Mundum Press published the translated version of his book in July 2020. The Amazon review says:
‘Memoirs of celebrated criminals purvey vivid personal stories while spawning sharp questions about the cultures that produced them. In “Outlaw: Author Armed & Dangerous)”, Rédoine Faïd, of Algerian immigrant parents, born and raised in the housing projects surrounding Paris, recounts his career as an infamous and renowned bandit.
Drawing inspiration and instruction from a host of films and television series, Faïd styled himself and was known to friends and accomplices as “Doc” — after Steve McQueen in the legendary suspense thriller, “The Getaway”.
‘With self-discipline and a striking ability to learn from experience, Faïd carried off his first robberies while still a teenager. He soon graduated from petty thievery to armed robbery, targeting computer component suppliers, jewellery stores, banks, and most memorably, armoured trucks. A master of disguise, with a bulletproof vest and a .357 Magnum as a prop to encourage compliance, he led a crew that operated with careful planning but eschewed bloodshed and physical violence.
‘In imitation of Michael Mann’s “Heat”, Faïd and his cohorts donned hockey masks for one job, sometimes even quoting from other famous heist films during their capers. When bold plans went wrong, he reacted with fast thinking that served him well — until it didn’t, and he was arrested and imprisoned in 1998.
‘Outlaw was first published in France in 2009, after which Faïd was imprisoned again. Subsequently, his dramatic escapes from jail in 2013 and 2018 made front-page news in France and around the world.
‘Interviewed by journalist Jérôme Pierrat, who specializes in crime and investigative reportage, Rédoine Faïd tells his own story with panache and humour, darkened by introspection and cautionary tales. His story, like that of a character out of a Jean-Pierre Melville film or Dassin’s.
Rififi, is not only intriguing, it is also as compelling as any high-grade thriller. Three months after his daring helicopter escape from Réau Prison in 2018, Faïd was captured again. He currently remains in jail.’
Picture Credit: Cover page of the book © copyright of author, publisher and Amazon duly acknowledged.
The book, Outlaw: Author Armed & Dangerous, is available for purchase from Amazon, at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaw-Author-Dangerous-R%C3%A9doine-Fa%C3%AFd/dp/1940625386
A video on the incredible jailbreak of Rédoine Faïd can be viewed online at: https://youtu.be/Ew2oyrr7eVk
IMDB say that Condé Nast Entertainment and Sentient Entertainment are to shoot a movie (to be directed by Pierre Morel, based on Julie Miller’s Vanity Fair story “How Hollywood Inspired France’s Most Daring Prison Escape.1F
Sources and Further Reading
- https://www.gq.com/story/worlds-greatest-jailbreak-artist-redoine-faid (story by Adam Leith Gollner)
- https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/07/redoine-faid-french-prison-escape-hollywood-michael-mann (story by Julie Miller)