Paris po­lice at­tacker had ‘rad­i­cal vi­sion of Is­lam’

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

PARIS (AFP) — A staffer at Paris po­lice head­quar­ters who stabbed four col­leagues to death in a fren­zied at­tack ad­hered to “a rad­i­cal vi­sion of Is­lam”, an anti-ter­ror pros­e­cu­tor said Satur­day.

The 45-year-old com­puter ex­pert had been in con­tact with mem­bers of Salafism, an ul­tra-con­ser­va­tive branch of Sunni Is­lam, and de­fended “atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted in the name of that re­li­gion,” Jean-Fran­cois Ri­card told re­porters.

Three po­lice of­fi­cers and an ad­min­is­tra­tive worker — three men and one woman — died in the lunchtime at­tack on Thurs­day at the po­lice head­quar­ters, a stone’s throw from the Notre-Dame cathe­dral in the his­toric heart of Paris.

The as­sailant, named as Mick­ael Har­pon, was shot dead by a po­lice­man, an in­tern at po­lice head­quar­ters.

The in­ci­dent sent shock waves through an em­bat­tled French po­lice force al­ready com­plain­ing of low morale.

On the morn­ing of his “ex­tremely vi­o­lent” at­tack, Har­pon bought two knives, a 33-cen­time­tre long kitchen knife and an oys­ter knife which he kept hid­den, Ri­card said.

He showed “ab­so­lutely no signs of ner­vous­ness” as he cir­cled back to po­lice head­quar­ters, ac­cord­ing to CCTV footage ex­am­ined by po­lice, the pros­e­cu­tor said.

The at­tack, from his re­turn to the of­fice, the killings and his death by po­lice bul­lets, lasted seven min­utes, Ri­card said.

He first killed a 50-year old po­lice ma­jor and a 38-year old guard who worked in the same of­fice as Har­pon and were hav­ing lunch at their desks.

He then went to an­other of­fice on the same floor where he killed a 37-year old ad­min­is­tra­tive agent.

Hav­ing failed to en­ter an­other of­fice, which was locked, he went down into the court­yard where he stabbed a 39-year old po­lice­woman who later died of her wounds.

He then in­jured two other peo­ple, be­fore a po­lice­man, an in­tern, killed him with two shots.

Shortly be­fore, he had ex­changed 33 text mes­sages with his wife.

The mes­sages ex­clu­sively con­cerned re­li­gion, and the at­tacker ended the con­ver­sa­tion with “Al­lahu Ak­bar” (“God is great­est”) and told her to “fol­low our beloved prophet Mo­hammed and med­i­tate on the Ko­ran”, ac­cord­ing to the pros­e­cu­tor.

She was be­ing held by po­lice on Satur­day.

Har­pon, who sup­ported the Char­lie Hebdo at­tacks in 2015, had changed his at­tire in re­cent months, shun­ning “all Western clothes in fa­vor of tra­di­tional gar­ments to visit the mosque,” Ri­card added.

He also wished to no longer “have cer­tain kinds of con­tact with women.”

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, who has de­scribed the at­tack as a “true drama,” will lead trib­utes to the vic­tims on Tues­day, the El­y­see an­nounced on Satur­day.

Sources at the Paris pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice said on Fri­day the case had been passed to the anti-ter­ror­ist pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice PNAT af­ter early en­quiries sug­gested that the at­tacker, a con­vert to Is­lam, could have be­come rad­i­cal­ized.

Har­pon, born on the French over­seas ter­ri­tory of Mar­tinique in the Caribbean, con­verted to Is­lam about 10 years ago, the pros­e­cu­tor said.

He had no po­lice record but was in­ves­ti­gated for do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in 2009.

Sources said he had worked in a sec­tion of the po­lice ser­vice ded­i­cated to col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion on ji­hadist rad­i­cal­iza­tion.

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