A man of Armenian origin attempted to use a vehicle to mow down Muslims coming from a mosque near Paris on Thursday claiming he wanted to “avenge the Bataclan and the Champs-Elysees.”
The 43-year-old Armenian used a 4×4 in an attempt to injure or kill Muslims who were leaving the Créteil mosque just outside of Paris. No one was injured in the attempted attack and the man fled the scene in his car immediately after, being arrested in his home around ten minutes later Le Parisien reports.
The incident occurred just after 6pm, but failed in his initial attempt due to the presence of two small bollards which his vehicle could not get over. After this, he tried a second time to attack but was blocked this time by the median in the middle of the street.
At this point, several motorists blocked the entrance of the mosque with their cars. The 4×4 struck one of the cars, a red Citroen, and then sped off. Police were able to quickly locate the man after being given his licence plate by witnesses.
“We saw the car go three times around the mosque, it was strange and all of a sudden she went very fast. For me, it was clearly trying to overturn pedestrians,” said 40-year-old witness Icham.
Another witness claimed that the man had come to the mosque the day before and lay flowers at a plaque dedicated to the Armenian genocide which saw a large number of Christians killed by Ottoman Turkey from 1915 to 1917.
A source working with the investigation said, “He said he did not like jihadists, that he wanted to hit people and cars.”
The attack bears a striking similarity to the attack the occurred in the vicinity of Finsbury Park mosque in London several weeks ago. In that attack Welsh resident Darren Osborne rented a van and drove it down to London where he intended to run people over at the annual anti-Israel al-Quds day parade but was delayed and targetted a mosque instead.
Osborne ended up killing one and injuring several others and has been formally charged with terrorism and murder relating from terrorism.
Car attacks have also been frequently used by radical Islamist supporters of the Islamic State. the first major attack occurring in Nice last year killing 84 people, the Berlin Christmas Market attack which killed 12, and the two attacks in London’s Westminister and London bridges.