Paris police knife attacker had ‘likely’ ties to Salafists, prosecutor says

Click to play video: 'Paris police HQ attacker showed ‘radicalization,’ say prosecutors'
Paris police HQ attacker showed ‘radicalization,’ say prosecutors
Evidence has emerged that the man who killed four of his coworkers in a knife rampage at Paris' police headquarters on Thursday may have been a religious extremist, according to prosecutors – Oct 5, 2019

The perpetrator of a deadly knife attack at a Paris police headquarters was likely in contact with members of an ultra-conservative reform movement of Islam, the Paris prosecutor said Saturday.

In a press conference, Jean-Francois Ricard said the civilian employee, who killed four of his colleagues Thursday, “had likely contacts with members of the Salafist movement.”

Salafism is a fundamentalist branch of Islam that historically has been apolitical but has become tied to violent extremism through jihadist attacks and groups like al Qaeda and ISIS which adhere to its belief that Islam has strayed from its roots and must return to traditionalist teachings and practices.

Ricard did not elaborate further on his claim.

READ MORE: Paris police knife attack investigation handed to anti-terror prosecutor

He revealed fresh details about the fatal ordeal, one day after French prosecutors opened an investigation into the attack, which they indicated could be terror-related.

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Ricard said the autopsies “attest to a scene of extreme violence” in an attack that lasted seven minutes, adding that two knives used had been purchased by the killer — including a knife for preparing oysters.

READ MORE: Knife attacker kills 4 at Paris police headquarters before being shot dead

Ricard said that while the attacker had no prior convictions, he had been accused of domestic violence a decade ago.

He was killed by police during the attack.

Click to play video: 'Police guard scene after man attacks officers with knife at Paris police HQ'
Police guard scene after man attacks officers with knife at Paris police HQ

The wife of the attacker is in custody until Monday at the latest.

Ricard said she exchanged 33 text messages with her husband about Islam in the hours leading up to the attack.

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Authorities said the unnamed attacker had worked for the Paris police force since 2003, didn’t have a history of psychiatric problems, and converted to Islam 18 months ago.

It took some 24 hours for authorities to say the attack was a potential act of terrorism, and on Friday morning the French government was still maintaining there was nothing to suggest the armed attacker had any ties to extremist groups.

French opposition lawmakers from the Republicans and the far-right National Assembly party are accusing Macron’s government of bungling the case and are calling for a parliamentary inquiry.

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