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Knife attacker in France said to have watched jihadist videos
Published: Apr 26, 2021 06:03 PM
A Tunisian man who stabbed to death a police employee outside Paris watched jihadist propaganda videos just before the attack, France's anti-terror prosecutor said on Sunday, adding that a fifth person was detained for questioning.

French Police officers stand next to the Police station in Rambouillet, south west of Paris, Friday, April 23, 2021. Photo: VCG

French Police officers stand next to the Police station in Rambouillet, south west of Paris, on Friday. Photo: VCG

Based on an analysis of the killer's cell phone as well as his social media postings, "his radicalization appears little in doubt," Jean-Francois Ricard said at a press conference.

The 36-year-old attacker, identified as Jamel Gorchene, stabbed a woman who worked at the police station in Rambouillet, a suburb southwest of Paris, on Friday as she was returning from a break.

Racing into the building's secure entry hall, he grabbed the victim from behind and stabbed her in the stomach and throat while yelling Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), Ricard said.

An officer in the building shot Gorchene after he refused an order to drop the knife, which had a 22-centimeter blade. 

Investigators later discovered that he had watched videos of songs praising jihadist fighters on his phone moments before the attack.

A Koran and a prayer rug were found in his scooter afterwards, Ricard said.

Video surveillance cameras appear to show that Gorchene visited a temporary prayer hall in Rambouillet a few hours before arriving at the station, he added, though the images do not confirm if he entered the building.

Gorchene's father, who was still being held for questioning Sunday, "revealed that his son had adopted a rigorous practice of Islam," Ricard said. 

"On the other hand, he also said that he had noticed behavioral troubles since the beginning of this year," he added.

A couple who housed Gorchene after he arrived illegally in France in 2009 were released from custody without charge, a judicial source said.

Two cousins remained in custody Sunday as investigators try to work out what prompted the attack by a man unknown to any of France's intelligence services and without a criminal record.
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