The Pakistani who on Friday attacked two people with a knife in front of the former premises of the magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’ in Paris had planned to burn down the newspaper’s newsroom. However, when he saw the two victims at the door of the building, he decided to attack them thinking that they worked for the magazine, the antiterrorist prosecutor of the Republic, Jean-François Ricard, explained on Tuesday.
The attacker, a 25-year-old Pakistani named Zaheer Hassan Mahmoud, was “furious” that ‘Charlie Hebdo’ had republished the controversial cartoons of Muhammad earlier this month, coinciding with the start of the Paris trial for the January attacks. 2015. Five years ago, the weekly was already targeted by jihadists for publishing those same cartoons.
Mahmoud, who was arrested by the police shortly after the attack, was unaware that the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ newsroom was no longer on that street. After the attack, the magazine moved to other premises, the address of which is secret for security reasons. The attack, of “extreme violence” according to the antiterrorist prosecutor, lasted between 15 and 20 seconds.
The two victims, a man and a woman, work for the audiovisual production company Premières Lignes. They were smoking a cigarette when the detainee attacked them. The man suffers “a skull fracture” and remains in “very serious condition.” The woman was slightly injured.
No particular terrorist affiliation
Police discovered a video on the attacker’s mobile phone in which he “cries and invokes God”, but “does not swear allegiance to any particular terrorist group.” The prosecutor explained that the attacker lied about his age and identity when he arrived in France two years ago.
According to investigators, the assailant had posed as an unaccompanied minor. In reality, he was not 18 but 25. He is charged with “attempted murder in connection with a terrorist organization and criminal association”.