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Illustration by Security Management

Fatal Stabbing Triggers Terrorism Investigation in France

A man fatally stabbed a police administrative worker in France on Friday in what French President Emmanuel Macron is calling a terrorist attack.

The alleged attacker—Jamel Gorchene, a 36-year-old Tunisian national living in France—lunged at the worker as she went through the security doors into a police station in Rambouillet, a commuter town outside of Paris, the BBC reports. The attacker stabbed the woman, identified as Stéphanie M., in the neck, before her colleagues opened fire and killed the attacker.

France’s anti-terror prosecutor, Jean-Francois Ricard, is leading the investigation because the assailant allegedly scoped out the site before the attack. A source close to the investigation also said the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar” or “God is Greatest” when attacking the worker, according to Reuters. Ricard told press on Sunday that the official investigation found that the assailant had looked at religious videos glorifying acts of jihad on his phone before the knife attack.

The assailant was previously unknown to security or intelligence forces, sources claimed. According to Counter-Intelligence Chief Laurent Nuñez, Gorchene had shown no signs of radicalization, but he was a generally isolated person with limited personal connections, which makes the detection of radicalization warning signs more challenging. The suspect’s father and three other people were taken into custody and questioned as police dig into Gorchene’s background and possible motives.

The French government held an emergency meeting during the weekend after the attack to discuss counterterrorism and security, according to the International Business Times. Security will be stepped up at police stations nationwide following the attack, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said.

During the past several years, attacks by Islamist militants or Islamist-inspired individuals have killed about 250 people in France, Reuters reports, and Macron has expressed increasing concern about radicalism—which often does not escalate into violence—and separatism within Muslim communities. He warned not to conflate Islam and radical Islamism.

The latest attack recalls the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty in October 2020, which sparked outrage and anti-separatist legislation.