Algerian relative, ex-colleague of Notre Dame attacker astounded

2017-06-07 20:58


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Algiers - A relative and former colleague of the Algerian suspected of attacking a policeman outside the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris said on Wednesday they struggled to believe he was a jihadist.

The attacker was shot and wounded by police on Tuesday after he lunged at an officer with a hammer in a square full of tourists in front of the landmark cathedral.

Documents found on the attacker identified him as Farid I., a 40-year-old Algerian student, and a source close to the investigation said police found a video in his flat in which he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Speaking to AFP in his North African homeland on Wednesday, the suspect's nephew Sofiane I. said it was hard to believe his relative had carried out the attack.

"At first we thought there must have been a mistake on the person's identity. The man they're talking about doesn't correspond to the person we know," he said on the phone from Bejaia, about 250km east of Algiers.

"Farid was a progressive. Nothing to do with any extremist movement. He just prayed like everyone else," the lawyer and human rights activist said.

Farid was the youngest in a family of seven brothers and four sisters originally from Akbou, some 70km southwest of Bejaia, said Sofiane.

"His parents are in shock and can't believe what's happening - that their son is the person being talked about," he said.

"Last year when he came on holiday, we discussed the situation in the Middle East. He said he didn't believe in this group (ISIS) and even described (ISIS chief Abu Bakr) al-Baghdadi as an idiot," he said.

Kamel Medjoub, bureau chief in Bejaia for the French-language daily El Watan, was just as astounded.

"I can't believe Farid might be a (member) of Daesh or that he might have any affiliation to such a group. It's unthinkable," Medjoub told AFP by phone.

"Perhaps he lost the plot and attacked a policeman, but him pledging allegiance to Daesh is unthinkable," said Medjoub, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

The journalist said he worked with Farid for a year from April 2013 at El Watan, a newspaper known for its opposition to Islamists, before he headed to France to finish his studies.

During that time, Farid showed "no sign of any religious committment or any radicalisation", Medjoub said, adding he did not understand any subsequent "U-turn".

During the assault, the attacker shouted "this is for Syria", France's Interior Minister Gerard Collomb has said.

The man was on Wednesday placed in custody in hospital, where he is being treated for a gunshot wound to the chest.

Read more on:    isis  |  france  |  algeria  |  north africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.