The man who killed four people in Paris police headquarters had contact with Salafi extremists. He recently stopped wearing Western clothing and ended contact with women.
Pretoria – French prosecutors have handed over the case against a man who killed four people in the police headquarters to the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office. The referral came after initial investigations revealed the man’s connection to radical Islam.
On Thursday, October 3, a man who worked in police headquarters in Paris viciously attacked five of his colleagues with knives, killing four before another police officer shot him dead. Originally, police investigated the attack as a criminal offense.
Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard announced in a press conference on Saturday that the attacker, Mickael Harpon, followed “a radical vision of Islam.”
The attacker had converted to Islam 10 years ago. Citing altered and radicalized behavior, Ricard explained that there was evidence the Paris knife attack was a terrorist act.
In the hours leading up to the attack, the alleged killer had sent his wife multiple religious text messages. Police have detained the man’s wife.
The type of fatal wounds on one victim, the man’s connection to radical Salafis, his recent decision to stop wearing Western clothing, and his desire to end contact with women all pointed to a religious motivation for the attack, according to Ricard. Even more telling was that the attacker also defended the Charlie Hebdo attacks of 2015.
How could this happen?
The man worked for French police since 2003, according to Deutsche Welle. Although he carried out the attack with two metal knives which should have sounded the alarm when he walked through metal detectors, Le Parisien reported that insiders say regular workers at the police headquarters are “less controlled.”
The man would have been the subject of a “high level of security screening,” just as everyone else in the intelligence division, Police Chief Didier Lallement said on Friday.
At lunch time on Thursday, the man went out of his office, bought two knives and returned to commit the attack. In a seven-minute spree, he killed three men who were eating their lunch in their offices and then attacked two women in the stairway and near elevators, according to Le Parisien. One of the women survived the attack.
When the man entered the courtyard of the headquarters, a police officer challenged him to put down his weapon. When the attacker advanced, the police officer fatally shot him.