Police question parents, friend of Paris attacker
Investigators are following the trail of a 20-year-old Frenchman born in Chechnya who rampaged through a festive Paris neighborhood slashing passers-by with a knife, raising anew the specter of terrorism in France after less than two months of calm.
Using a knife, the man identified as Khamzat Azimov killed one person and wounded four others in a festive area near Paris’ old opera house. Police shot him to death as he charged them, witnesses said. Less than 24 hours later, investigators were questioning three people – his parents and a friend.
The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for the Saturday night attack via its Aamaq news agency, saying Azimov was their “soldier” acting in response to the group’s calls for supporters to target members of the U.S.-led anti-IS military coalition, a stock response. France’s military has been active in the coalition since 2014.
On Sunday, Aamaq released a posthumous video said to show the attacker calling on Muslims in Europe to “take action in the land of disbelievers” if they can’t travel to the crumbling caliphate in Iraq and Syria, which has been pounded by coalition forces. The man said French citizens should pressure their government “if you want it [attacks] to end.”
SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi propaganda, obtained the video, which could not be independently authenticated. The young man’s face is covered, except for his eyes, with a black bandanna and the hood of his coat. The video was made outside amid trees and falling rain. French authorities had no comment.
Police detained Azimov’s parents in the northern 18th district of Paris and held a friend from Strasbourg in that city on the border with Germany in eastern France, French officials said. The friend was detained Sunday afternoon.
A security official said investigators searched the Paris residence of the parents. The official wasn’t authorized to speak about the investigation and insisted on not being quoted by name.
French media reported that the family had lived in Strasbourg, and it wasn’t clear if the suspect moved to Paris with his parents.
Counterterrorism investigators want to know if the assailant had help or co-conspirators. The attacker killed a 29-year-old man and wounded four other people, one from Luxembourg, before police fatally shot him.