Government accused of serious failings as it emerges assailant had links to radical Islam
The French prime minister, douard Philippe, has promised a security review of staff working in counter-terrorism intelligence units after the state prosecutor said the police administrator who killed four people in an attack at a Paris headquarters adhered to a radical vision of Islam.
Opposition politicians this weekend criticised the government for what they called serious failings, asking how a long-standing staff member working within a high-security police department was able to carry out a vicious, premeditated attack in his own office on Thursday. He left work to buy a kitchen knife and oyster knife and returned to kill four colleagues and injure two others, slitting the throat of at least one victim. The attack is being investigated as a terrorist incident.
The attacker, Mickal Harpon, who was shot dead at the scene, was a 45-year-old computer expert. He had worked in the police headquarters for more than 15 years and had high-grade security clearance for his job in a section of the police service dedicated to collecting information on jihadist radicalisation.
The counter-terrorism prosecutor, Jean-Franois Ricard, said Harpon had converted to Islam several years ago and adhered to a radical vision of the religion. He said Harpon exchanged more than 30 religious text messages with his wife before leaving work to buy the knives, displaying no nervousness.
Politicians on the left and right warned of security failings inside the police force and counter-terrorism intelligence, asking how the internal risk from a staff member was not spotted earlier. Many called on the interior minister, Christophe Castaner, to resign.
Immediately after the attack on Thursday, Castaner had announced that the assailant had never shown any behavioural problems and never aroused the slightest reason for alarm. The case was initially handled as an ordinary homicide case, before analysis of the assailants phones led it to be passed to counter-terrorism police.
But opposition parties accused the government of failings, saying Harpon had reportedly been mentioned to managers by a staff member four years ago when he appeared to have justified the 2015 attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and that the government had initially seemed unaware of this.