PARIS — The perpetrator of a knife attack that left four people dead at a Paris police headquarters had recently adhered to a “radical vision of Islam,” according to witnesses, anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said Saturday.
Three policemen and a female police administrative worker were killed Thursday by a colleague who was later shot dead by a 24-year-old police intern inside the building near Notre Dame Cathedral, the prosecutor said.
The attacker, identified by police only as Mickaël H., had converted “about 10 years ago” to Islam and recently had kept to a more “radical vision,” Ricard said during a news conference.
The attacker had contacts with people suspected of belonging to the ultraconservative Salafist movement of Islam, the prosecutor said.
The attacker had expressed his support for the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks, Ricard said, and “certain acts committed in the name of this religion,” as well as a desire to “cease certain forms of contact with women” and his adoption of traditional Muslim clothing “in the last few months.”
Wife remains in custody
The attacker and his wife exchanged 33 text messages over 29 minutes the morning preceding the attack, and their content was “exclusively religious,” the prosecutor said.
The last exchange ended with “Allahu akbar,” which means “God is greater” in Arabic, and “follow the vision of our prophet Mohammed and meditate over the Quran.”
These text messages were sent 30 minutes before the attacker visited a local store and bought two knives that would be used in the attack.
The attacker’s wife is still in police custody, the order for which was extended on Saturday afternoon for another 48 hours. She wasn’t designated as “Fichier S,” which French law enforcement use for a person who represents a serious threat to national security, Ricard said.
The attacker, who was deaf after contracting meningitis, was born in 1974 and worked in IT maintenance for French Police Intelligence at the Prefecture de Police.
He had no criminal record, the prosecutor said.