The Paris knifeman shot by police earlier today was carrying a piece of paper depicting the Islamic State flag as well as a claim of responsibility written in Arabic, according to the Paris public prosecutor.
The prosecutor’s office has publicly confirmed the Paris knifeman (pictured above) was found in possession of a piece of paper with the Islamic State flag and an “unambiguous statemenent” in handwritten Arabic, along with a mobile phone which held messages in Arabic and German, reports BFM TV.
The note reportedly pledges allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, and refers to “acts to avenge the dead in Syria”.
French media says the knifeman is Sallah Ali, a 20-year old homeless Moroccan born in Casablanca. His finger prints reportedly match those of a man arrested for theft in southern France in 2013.
The prosecutor’s office announced he was carrying a butcher’s knife and shouting “Alla hu akbar”(“God is the greatest”) when he attempted to enter a police station before he was shot dead. He was also wearing what appeared to be an explosive device, with witnesses saying wires were protruding from his clothing.
Closer inspection revealed it was a dummy device. A French police union official, Luc Poignant, said the knifeman “wanted to create the impression of an attack”.
Schools, shops, roads and Metro lines in the surrounding area were locked down in the immediate aftermath of the incident, both as a security precaution and to check whether accomplices or other potential assailants were at large.
A terrorism investigation has been opened into the attempted attack, which took place earlier today at the Goutte d’Or police station in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. It is an area where 35 per cent of the population is of immigrant – mainly Algerian and west African – origin, a high proportion of which are Muslims.
The attack came at a time when President Hollande was marking the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, when Al Qaeda linked gunmen stormed the offices of the satirical French magazine, murdering 15 journalists because they had published depictions of Muhammed.
Paying tribute to French security forces today in a speech given at the Paris’ police headquarters, President Hollande said any attack on a policeman or fireman was not just a crime but “an attack on the Republic” perpetrators of which “will be mercilessly hunted down, caught and punished in the appropriate manner.”