A man who wounded two people in a cleaver attack in Paris last week was charged with “attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise,” French counter-terrorism prosecutors told AFP on Tuesday.
A judge has investigated the man, who identified himself as a 25-year-old Pakistani-born Zaheer Hassan Mehmood, for criminal association with terrorists, law enforcement agency PNAT said, adding that a motion had been made for him on pre-trial detention will.
The suspect previously admitted that he lied to police when he said he was 18 and entered the country as a minor, the chief prosecutor on the case said.
The attacker, whom the French government has labeled “Islamist terrorism”, identified himself as Hassan A., an 18-year-old who was born in the Pakistani city of Mandi Bahauddin.
He entered France in 2018 under the false identity that gave him access to social security assistance for minors, said national anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard at a press conference.
After last Friday’s attack, investigators became suspicious of his claims when they found a photo of ID on his phone that suggested he was actually called Zaheer Hassan Mehmood, 25 years old.
“He finally admitted that this was his real identity and that he was 25 years old,” said Ricard.
Under this identity, he appeared in a video made prior to the attack in which he said he was avenging the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad by the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
The magazine was the site of a massacre by Islamist gunmen in January 2015, and the trial of 14 alleged accomplices in the attack is currently ongoing in Paris.
The attacker seriously wounded two employees of a TV production agency whose offices are in the same block that used to be Charlie Hebdo. They are now in stable condition, officials said.
He told investigators he thought he was targeting Charlie Hebdo employees, but failed to realize they had since moved to a new location that is kept secret because of security risks.
Ricard said the attacker had never drawn the attention of a government intelligence agency prior to Friday’s attack.
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