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Paris knife attack suspect charged with terror offences

By RFI
France REUTERS - GONZALO FUENTES
DEC 7, 2023 LISTEN
REUTERS - GONZALO FUENTES

 A man suspected of stabbing a German tourist to death near the Eiffel Tower was charged late Wednesday with carrying out a terror attack and placed in solitary confinement, his lawyer said.

The deadly assault late on Saturday came with France at its highest alert level against the background of the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

It followed a series of recent isolated attacks in the country.

The incident has increased security concerns in the run-up to the Paris Olympic Games that begin in July.

The case is being handled by French anti-terrorist prosecutors who have opened an investigation into a "terrorist" plot.

Armand Rajabpour-Miyandoab, a French national born in 1997 to Iranian parents, is a known Islamist radical who has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group and was under psychological surveillance for mental health issues.

He was arrested over the killing of a 23-year-old man, identified as a German-Filipino citizen, with two blows from a hammer and four from a knife, as well as wounding two others.

Solitary confinement

Rajabpour-Miyandoab appeared before the investigating magistrate in the late afternoon, who formally charged him.

His lawyer Clementine Perros later told reporters that a judge placed him in solitary confinement as part of his pre-trial detention.

He told investigators he acted "in reaction to the persecution of Muslims around the world", a source close to the investigation said, describing him as "very cold" during questioning.

He said he picked the Eiffel Tower as "he could not bear it being lit up in the colours of the Israeli flag", the source said.

French authorities had displayed solidarity with Israel after the unprecedented 7 October attacks by Hamas that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw some 240 hostages taken, according to Israeli authorities.

An Israeli military campaign to destroy the Palestinian militant group has since killed more than 16,000 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, the Hamas-run government there says.

Conversion to Islam

Rajabpour-Miyandoab, whose family is not religious, converted to Islam at 18 and began consuming huge amounts of IS propaganda, according to prosecutors.

A woman known to the authorities whom Rajabpour-Miyandoab is said to have met the night before the attack was also detained for questioning but released without charge at this point, the source close to the investigation said.

A source close to the case said that the 27-year-old woman belonged to the "jihadist sphere" and had recently received a marriage proposal from the suspect.

He had previously been sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 for planning an attack, before he was released in 2020.

France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Monday that there had been a "psychiatric failure" in his case, as "doctors said on several occasions that he was doing better".

He said regional authorities did not have the power to issue an administrative order for such an individual to undergo psychiatric treatment, and "this has to change".

Rajabpour-Miyandoab's mother had reported concerns about him as recently as October, but there was insufficient proof at the time to take legal action.

Radicalised through internet

An account Rajabpour-Miyandoab opened on X, formerly Twitter, in October showed "many posts about Hamas, Gaza or Palestine more generally", according to France's top anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard.

On it he posted a video in Arabic, presenting himself as an IS fighter based in Afghanistan.

Rajabpour-Miyandoab had been radicalised through contacts on the internet and had been in touch with perpetrators of similar past attacks, Darmanin said.

These contacts included a radicalised Islamist from Russia's Caucasus region who would later kill teacher Samuel Paty, beheaded outside his school near Paris in 2020.

(with AFP)

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