A man with severe psychiatric problems killed his mother and sister and seriously injured another woman in a knife attack Thursday morning in a suburb of Paris, according to French officials.
The 36-year-old man, who has not been officially identified, fatally stabbed his relatives in broad daylight on a street in Trappes, a suburb southwest of Paris. He then took refuge in a house and was later shot dead by police when he left the house and ran towards the police in a threatening way, according to French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb.
"It appears the criminal had serious psychiatric problems," Collomb told reporters in Trappes.
"He was known (to the police) for advocating terrorism but it seems he was a disturbed person rather than someone who could respond to calls for action from terrorist organisations like Daesh," he said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (IS) group.
FRANCE 24's jihadist expert discusses the Paris knife attack
FRANCE 24’s jihadist expert Wassim Nasr said for his part that the attacker’s psychiatric problems “wouldn’t prevent him from acting in the name of a terrorist organisation”.
Nasr said there were cases of people in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other countries killing their family members who had tried to stop them from joining the IS group. He added that what the attacker's mother and sister do for a living might give some clue as to the attacker’s motives.
Nasr said that some jihadist movements, and the IS group in particular, readily considered Muslims living in the West as traitors.
“Some jihadi writings say that even Muslims living in Western countries, who pay their taxes, who benefit from a welfare state are considered as enemies because they are helping a crusader state.”
The IS group, which has a history of opportunistic claims, had swiftly claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released by their propaganda channel Amaq. The group provided no evidence to support their claim and the statement came before it was confirmed that the victims were related to the attacker.
The jihadist group has lost most of the territory it once controlled in Syria and Iraq. The knife attack in Trappes came a day after the IS group chief released a purported new audio message urging supporters to practice patience and continue the jihad.
“There are a couple of problems that happened in this case,” said Asif Arif, a lawyer and civil liberties expert, in an interview with FRANCE 24. The first, Arif noted, was the fact that the IS group had claimed the attack while French authorities were not convinced it was a terror attack planned or instigated by the group. “It’s my personal view that Daesh is trying to get back on track by claiming any local, diverse incident,” he said.
Asif Arif: 'Daesh is trying to get back on track'
The second confusion, Arif added, was that the attacker was on France’s “S folder” watch list of individuals susceptible to radicalisation. Arif however pointed that the S folder – or “fiche S” in French – is not a terror watch list, but a file alerting authorities to individuals with “radicalisation tendencies”.
An underprivileged suburb
Situated around 30 kilometres from Paris, Trappes is an underprivileged suburb in the largely wealthy Yvelines area west of Paris. Nearly half of the 30,000 inhabitants are less than 25 years old and the unemployment level is nearly 20 percent.
Only a short drive from the wealthy area of Versailles, home to the world-famous Versailles Palace, the town is known for problems linked to poverty, gangs and hardline interpretations of Islam.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2018-08-23