French President François Hollande called an emergency meeting Tuesday after an allegedly Islamic State-inspired attacker fatally stabbed a couple with ties to the police and recorded images of the assault before he was killed by police.
Authorities had taken three more suspects into custody and said that the assailant had a list of names for possible further attacks, including journalists and public officials. The names have not been made public.
Hollande described the killings of the couple — police captain Jean-Baptiste Salvaing, 42, and his partner, an unidentified official at the Interior Ministry — as “undeniably a terrorist attack” and said that “France is confronted by an extremely high terrorist threat.”
The couple’s 3-year-old son was present during the attack, but was apparently unharmed. The suspect, identified as Larossi Abballa, 25, recorded the massacre and apparently posted images to a Facebook account before he was killed in a police raid on the couple’s home in Magnanville, about 30 miles northwest of Paris, officials said.
A French journalist and jihadist expert, David Thomson, said Abballa also posted a video calling for the deaths of more police officers, prison guards and journalists. French authorities later confirmed the postings.
According to Thomson, who saw Abballa’s video before it was taken down, the assailant threatened that the Euro 2016 soccer tournament currently hosted by France “would be a graveyard.”
Originally from the Paris suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie, Abballa had a previous terrorism conviction and ties to Pakistani jihadist networks. In 2013, Abballa was sentenced to three years in prison for attempting to recruit jihadist militants to fight in Pakistan. In 2015, he was subjected to court-ordered wiretaps after one of his relatives departed for Syria, the Reuters news agency reported.
Within hours of the killings, the Amaq Agency, which has ties to the Islamic State, cited an “unnamed source” claiming that an operative with the group had carried out the stabbings. The Islamic State has not officially claimed responsibility.
France has been in a “state of emergency” following attacks on Nov. 13, which killed 130 across the French capital. Bernard Cazeneuve, France’s Interior Minister, repeated Tuesday that more than 100 people have been arrested since then for having suspected “direct links to terrorism.”
Thousands more have been placed under house arrest in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
The Euro 2016 soccer tournament, which began in Paris on Friday, has also raised security concerns, especially after it was revealed that the same terrorist cell that attacked Paris in November and Brussels in March had initially planned to attack the tournament.
The government has deployed over 100,000 security forces to police the tournament, held at venues in ten different cities across the country.
Last month, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, a spokesman for the Islamic State, told followers to increase “lone wolf” attacks in the West during the holy month of Ramadan. “The tiniest action you do in the heart of their land is dearer to us than the biggest action by us,” he said in an audio message released by al-Furqan.
Security analysts here say that despite the large, systemic anti-terror operations in place — such as government surveillance and intelligence-sharing programs — there is little to be done against terrorists who operate individually or in small groups.
“Still there are people who can go through the process with very basic weapons, improvised weapons, or things that will go underneath the intelligence surveillance,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, the director of the French Center for Analysis of Terrorism, in an interview.
SOURCE: James McAuley
The Washington Post