The suspect arrested in the vicious stabbing in Paris that left a German national dead and two others injured steps from the Eiffel Tower was released from prison in 2020 after plotting an Islamic terror attack, according to France’s interior minister.
Speaking to reporters late Saturday, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the arrested suspect, a French citizen in his mid-20s, was distraught over how “many Muslims are dying in Afghanistan and in Palestine,” claiming that France was an accomplice, according to reports by The Associated Press and Politico.
Darmanin said the accused attacker apparently cried “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), according to the AP.
French President Emmanuel Macron swiftly condemned Saturday’s incident as “a terrorist attack.”
“I send all my condolences to the family and loved ones of the German national who died this evening during the terrorist attack in Paris and think with emotion of the people currently injured and in care,” Macron wrote in a post on X on Saturday. “My most sincere thanks to the emergency forces who made it possible to quickly arrest a suspect. The national anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office now seized will be responsible for shedding light on this matter so that justice can be done in the name of the French people.”
“We will not give in to terrorism. Never,” French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne wrote on X.
The suspect previously served four years in jail for plotting another attack in 2016.
Born in Neuilly-Sur-Seine, a Paris suburb, the accused attacker was released from prison in 2020, was under surveillance and undergoing psychiatric treatment, and was most recently living with his parents in the Essonne region, south of Paris, Darmanin said. “This person was ready to kill others,” Darmanin told reporters.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock described the incident as a “suspected Islamist attack.”
“Shocking news from #Paris,” Baerbock wrote on X. “My thoughts are with the friends and family of the young German who was killed in the suspected Islamist attack. Almost his entire life lay ahead of him. Get well soon to the injured. Hate and terror have no place in Europe.”
Authorities said the accused attacker, who has not been identified by name, went after a German couple with a knife shortly after 9 p.m. on the Quai de Grenelle, not far from the Eiffel Tower. A 23-year-old man who was a German-Filipino citizen died from his injuries. A taxi driver reportedly tried to intervene in the attack near the Bir Hakeim bridge, an area popular with tourists, but the suspect ran across to the other side of the River Seine to the Right Bank, attacking two others with a hammer.
A 66-year-old British man and a 60-year-old French national were hurt, The Guardian reported. The accused attacker was stopped by police, who twice fired a taser at him in the stomach, Darmanin said, praising the officers for their quick response and reiterating that “there would doubtless have been other dead.”
France has been under a heightened terror alert since the October fatal stabbing of a teacher, Dominique Bernard, in the northern city of Arras by a former student originally from the Ingushetia region in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains and suspected of Islamic radicalization.
That fatal attack came three years after another teacher, Samuel Paty, was killed outside Paris, beheaded by a radicalized Chechen later killed by police. Six teenagers are on trial in Paris for allegedly inciting the murder after Paty showed a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in class during a discussion on the French ideals of secularism and freedom of expression.
The Saturday attack raised the fear level in the French capital, still marked by the 2015 attacks on cafés and a music hall by Islamist radicals that killed 130 people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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