The Islamist who attacked police in front of the Louvre Museum in Paris claims he acted alone and doesn’t have any formal contacts with Islamic State.
The 29-year-old Egyptian migrant Abdallah El-Hamahmy told French police he chose to attack the museum, which houses world famous priceless artwork like Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, because it was a “symbol of France”. Despite the claim by the attacker that he has no ties with the terror group, investigators say that “he shows a certain agreement with the ideas of Islamic State,” Die Presse reports.
The Egyptian told police the attack was in response to international airstrikes in Syria. Armed with two machetes and shouting “Allahu Akbar”, El-Hamahmy struck at several soldiers last Friday but was quickly shot and subdued.
He said it wasn’t his intention to injure soldiers, but rather to deface artworks in the museum; he claimed the machetes were only meant to deter people who might try to stop him defacing the artwork.
The man came to France at the end of January on a tourist visa from the United Arab Emirates. He had visited the museum five days prior to the attack in which he took part in a three-hour long tour. A tour guide at the museum was able to recognise the attacker due to this earlier visit.
“He seemed very interested in the leadership, especially at the Department of Egyptian Antiquities,” the guide told French media. “He was really one of the most interested of the group, he was really unsuspecting.”
While police say that El-Hamahmy exhibits sympathy for the ideas of Islamic State, his father has claimed that he was not radicalised at all.
Reda El-Hamahmy, a retired police general, said, “He went on a company trip and when it was over visited the museum. He was supposed to leave on Saturday.” He added he’d never seen any signs of radicalism.
The attack shows certain similarities with other Islamic State ordered or inspired attacks over the last year. One of the most notable was committed in Hanover, Germany, by 15-year old Safia S. who stabbed a policeman at a railway station. Safia claimed she wanted to fight for Islamic State in Syria, but was turned away when she tried to enter the war-torn country from Turkey. She instead attacked the policeman in order to wage jihad in Europe.
Last month she was sentenced to six years in prison for attempted murder, membership of a terrorist organisation, and intention to commit grievous bodily harm.