October 5, 2019

FRANCE: A Convert To Islam 10 Years Ago, Went On A Stabbing Spree At Paris Police Headquarters, Killed 4 People. France’s Antiterrorist Prosecutor Said This Was A Islamic Terrorist Attack.

BBC News, UK
written by Staff
Thursday October 3, 2019

A knife-wielding employee has killed three officers and one administrative worker at police headquarters in the centre of the French capital, Paris.

The attacker, who has not been named, was shot dead by police.

Witnesses described scenes of panic, with many people fleeing the building in tears. The area in the รฎle de la Citรฉ was sealed off.

The attack came a day after police went on strike across France over increasing violence towards officers.

The Paris prosecutor said a murder investigation had been launched.

A motive for the attack remains unclear. However, police union officials have suggested the attacker may have been involved in a workplace dispute.

What happened?

At about 13:00 local time (11:00 GMT; 12:00 BST), the attacker is said to have gone into the building and straight to his office where he began attacking colleagues with a knife.

He stabbed three people inside two offices and two women on a stairway, before he was shot dead by an officer inside the building's courtyard, according to French media.

Three men and one woman were killed, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz told reporters.

A fifth person was critically injured in the attack, and was sent for surgery. The building is near major tourist sites including the Notre-Dame cathedral.

"Police were running around in panic," a witness who was inside the courtyard at the time of the attack told Le Parisien newspaper.

"I was surprised to hear shooting because this is not a place where you hear that kind of thing. I first thought it was a suicide because there are a lot of those at the moment," he added.

President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner have all visited the site.

"You wait. One of these days there's going to be a real tragedy in the police."

Those words were said to the BBC by an officer attending Wednesday's big demo in Paris, called to draw attention to the alarming rise in police suicides. He could have no idea that the next day four of his colleagues would be knifed to death by another colleague at the Paris Prefecture.

But the truth is we know nothing about the motives of the attacker. ๐Ÿ˜ง

On the face of it he was an administrative worker, facing none of the day-to-day pressures of police officers on the street. One police union member said the killings could have happened anywhere - a factory, a hospital, a farm. The police link was coincidental.

This evening reports are being carried by two reputable French news outlets that the man was a recent convert to Islam. Is that true? Is it relevant? We do need to wait.

Who was the attacker?

According to the interior minister, he was a 45-year-old IT specialist who had worked for the Paris police force for 16 years.

Officials said he had been working in the force's intelligence division.

Mr Castaner said there had been no warning signs about the attacker, adding: "On the face of it, he looked a model employee."

Police have searched his home in the north of the city and taken his wife into custody, although the Paris prosecutor's office said she has not been charged.

There were tensions between the knifeman and his supervisor, according to police union official Christophe Crepin.

"I do not think this is a terrorist act," Mr Crepin, who knew the attacker, told Franceinfo Radio.

Police union leader Jean-Marc Bailleul described it as a criminal act, telling BFMTV: "It was a moment of madness."

The attack follows a rare nationwide police strike on Wednesday, which saw thousands of officers demonstrating in Paris over working hours, shortages in resources and controversial pension reforms.

Police unions say there have been more than 50 suicides by police officers since the start of the year.

They blame the rising numbers on difficult working conditions and increasing violence towards police.
The Wall Street Journal
written by Sam Schechner
Saturday October 5, 2019

PARIS—The police employee who stabbed to death four colleagues in a suspected terrorist attack at Paris police headquarters on Thursday appeared to have calmly planned his assault and been in contact with people tied to the Salafist fundamentalist movement of Islam, France’s antiterrorist prosecutor said Saturday.

The attacker, a 45-year-old man who worked in an intelligence office at the police headquarters, also exchanged 33 religious text messages with his 38-year-old wife—including the phrase “Allahu akbar”—before leaving his desk to buy the knives he used in the attack, said prosecutor Jean-Franรงois Ricard.

Mr. Ricard’s televised statement, in which he recounted moments including the purchase of two knives at a nearby store during lunchtime, sheds new light on the potential motivations behind a security breach in one of the most sensitive divisions at French police. But it didn’t directly address whether the attacker compromised police intelligence operations or had links to known terror groups.

Mr. Ricard didn’t take questions or elaborate on the attacker’s contacts, saying only that investigations “turned up contacts between the attacker and several individuals likely belonging to the Salafist movement.”

Mr. Ricard he said that interviews with witnesses and neighbors suggested the attacker, who was born in Martinique, had been turning toward radical Islam, including eschewing some contact with women, and defending the 2015 terrorist attack against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in a conversation with a colleague.

Mr. Ricard also corrected details that French officials had communicated Friday. He said the attacker had, according to witnesses, converted to Islam around 10 years ago, not 18 months ago, and had used two knives, a metal kitchen knife and an oyster knife, in the attack.

The suspect killed three men in the intelligence unit—two officers and one administrative assistant. He then tried to enter another office but found the door locked, and so stabbed two female police employees as he went downstairs to the building’s main courtyard. It was there he was shot dead, Mr. Ricard said. One of the women died and another was wounded in the shoulder, he added.

France has been on high alert since the January 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo. Islamic State militants killed 130 people across the Paris region in November 2015, followed by an attack on the Nice promenade that left 86 people dead in July 2016. Most recently, an extremist shot three people to death at Strasbourg’s Christmas market in December 2018.

With Islamic State losing almost all of the territory it once held in Syria, the extremist group’s ability to carry out attacks in the West has been degraded, authorities say. That means it must rely on sympathizers without operational ties to the group to strike.

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