Paris doesn't need much to awaken its worst terrorist ghosts. If it also suffers an attack in the same place where the first of a long series of jihadist massacres was perpetrated five years ago, the former headquarters of Charlie hebdo, whose trial takes place at this very moment, alarms go off. That happened this Friday, when an individual attacked two people with a knife at the doors of the old newsroom of the satirical magazine. The "main perpetrator" of the attack was arrested and the antiterrorist prosecutor took over the investigation of the case. Although no one has claimed it yet, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said that "it is clearly an act of Islamist terrorism."
"It's the street where I was Charlie hebdoIt is the operating mode of the Islamist terrorists, obviously, there is little doubt, it is a new bloody attack against our country ”, declared Darmanin on France2.
The scene of the attack immediately raised suspicions. “This has happened in a symbolic place at a time when the process for the unworthy acts of Charlie hebdo"Said French Prime Minister Jean Castex, as he traveled early in the afternoon together with Darmanin and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, to the site of the attack, in the 11th district of Paris.
These are the main reasons, said prosecutor Jean-François Ricard, why the national antiterrorist prosecutor's office that he directs has taken up the investigation for "attempted murder in connection with a terrorist act" and for "criminal terrorist association." As he explained, although at the moment no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, it is investigated a priori as a terrorist both for the "place" chosen – the former headquarters of the satirical magazine, where eight of its members were murdered – and the "moment ”In which it has occurred, in full trial for the January 2015 attacks, which left 17 dead. A third reason, Ricard added, is "the manifest will of the author to attempt against the lives of two people", a man and a woman whose condition, revealed by Castex, is no longer in danger.
The "main perpetrator" of the attack was arrested shortly after fleeing, the anti-terrorist prosecutor announced. As confirmed later by the Minister of the Interior, it is an 18-year-old man of Pakistani origin who arrived in French territory three years ago. The young man had been convicted of carrying a prohibited weapon, but was not, according to the French press, on the radar for radicalization. Shortly after the first arrest, a second 33-year-old individual was detained, whose alleged link to the attacker was being verified. According to Agence France Presse, five other men were later detained, after agents searched the home of the main suspect in Pantin, on the outskirts of Paris.
Regardless of whether the investigation confirms the terrorist background of the attack, it has caused a great commotion in a Paris that relives several of its darkest days with the trial for the attacks against Charlie hebdo, against a police officer and a Jewish supermarket in early 2015. In fact, the two victims of yesterday's attack work at the Premières Lignes news agency and production company, which already witnessed the attack five years ago in the neighboring headquarters of the satirical magazine. "This has raised fear and trauma," said Elise Lucet, host of the show. Cash Investigation, produced by Premières Lignes on Franceinfo station.
“Two colleagues smoked a cigarette in front of the building, on the street. I heard some screams. I went to the window and saw one of my colleagues stained with blood who was being chased down the street by a man with a machete, ”another Premières Lignes employee told AFP, who also collected testimonies from neighbors who felt that they were going back five years. “The first thing I said to myself was: 'This is starting all over again,” declared a woman who also experienced the attack on the satirical magazine on January 7, 2015. “The neighborhood continues to have scars. Reliving things like this, even in full trial, is wrong, "confirmed a father whose daughter was one of the thousands of schoolchildren who had to remain for several hours locked up in their schools while the police surrounded the area of the attack, before allow, in the afternoon, that they were picked up by their parents.
In the last days, Charlie hebdo has denounced new jihadist threats, especially after having republished the Muhammad cartoons as a result of the beginning of the process, in early September. This Wednesday, a hundred media published in solidarity with the magazine an "open letter to citizens", a plea for freedom of expression as everyone's task. “Today, in 2020, some of you are threatened with death on social media when you express unique opinions. The media are openly targeted by international terrorist organizations. The States exert pressure on French journalists 'guilty' of having published critical articles, ”they explained in the gallery titled Together, let's defend freedom.
In a statement, the writing of Charlie hebdo He condemned this new "ignoble act" that, he recalled, has once again targeted journalists. “This tragic episode shows once again that fanaticism, intolerance, whose origins the investigation will reveal to us, are still present in French society (…). Against fascism in all its forms, there is no other option but to continue fighting for our ideas and values, ”the publication stressed.
Many politicians have also condemned an attack that Castex also took advantage of to reiterate the Government's "unwavering commitment" to "freedom of the press" and its "determined will to fight terrorism with all means."
The material authors of the 2015 attacks, the brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi who perpetrated the massacre in Charlie hebdo and his sidekick Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a police officer before robbing the Jewish supermarket, are dead. The 14 accused of the "trial Charlie Hebdo " They are the so-called "second knives", 13 men and a woman, Hayat Boumeddiene, Coulibaly's partner, accused of participating in a criminal terrorist organization and for varying degrees of complicity, logistical, financial or material support. They face penalties ranging from life imprisonment to 10 and 20 years in prison. Only 11 of the defendants sit on the dock, as Boumeddiene and two other defendants, Mehdi and Mohammed Belhoucine, fled a few days before the attacks on the Syrian-Iraqi region.