The Tunisian assailant who stabbed a female official inside a police station in Rambouillet on the outskirts of Paris on Friday was ‘radicalized’ and suffered from psychiatric problems, investigators have said.
Five suspects have been detained, including the father, two cousins and landlords of the assailant, in the case which is being probed as an “Islamist terror attack.”
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Jean-Francois Ricard, the prosecutor of the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office (Pnat), said the assailant identified as Jamel Gorchene, 36, worked as a delivery driver and was given an exceptional employee residence permit in 2019.
Hailing from M’saken in Tunisia, he arrived as an illegal immigrant in France in 2009, and had no criminal record.
Since last year, the prosecutor said, nature of the messages and shared posts on his Facebook account showed a noticeable change, propagating religious and violent extremism.
After history teacher Samuel Paty was killed for showing offensive caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in class, Gorchene changed the label of his profile picture to “Respect Mohammed.”
Ricard said the recovery of the material at his home and on phone confirmed he was radicalized. Immediately before the attack, Gorchene accessed videos of religious songs glorifying the martyrs and jihad on phone. While stabbing the victim in the abdomen and the throat, he shouted “Allahu Akhbar” (God is great), he said, detailing the account of two witnesses. He was shot dead by the security forces.
There is also evidence that he was undergoing personality disorders. His father confirmed his son was facing “behavioral problems” at the beginning of the year and in February had sought consultation in a psychiatric center in Rambouillet. He then visited his family in Tunisia and returned to France on March 13.
The French police are in contact with Tunisian judicial authorities who have carried out checks to identify more details on Gorchene, the places he visited and possible individuals he came in contact with who may have inspired his attack, Ricard said.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry has stepped up security at police stations and gendarmerie barracks. Prime Minister Jean Castex has called the killing an “attack on the Republic.”