Belgium: ISIS naming of Belgian attacker was fake

2017-04-21 13:51
French police officers patrol on the Champs Elysees boulevard, with the Arc de Triomphe in background. (Christophe Ena, AP)

French police officers patrol on the Champs Elysees boulevard, with the Arc de Triomphe in background. (Christophe Ena, AP)

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Paris - Belgium's Interior Ministry says ISIS gave a false name for the man who attacked police on Paris' Champs-Elysees.

Islamic State's claim of responsibility came just a few hours after the attack - far more quickly than other similar claims - and the statement gave the attacker a pseudonym that would mean he was Belgian or had ties to Belgium.

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said on Friday: "The guy who yesterday (on Thursday) did the act was not a Belgian. He was French."

Asked about the Abu Yusuf Al-Beljiki pseudonym given by ISIS, Jambon said he "is certainly not the guy who committed the crime".

ISIS has been losing territory in Iraq and Syria and has seen the number of foreign recruits, notably from Europe, dwindle.

The swift claim indicated the group may have been trying to capitalise on the widespread attention from a high-profile attack at a time when Islamic extremism and security are at the centre of France's presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, two French officials say the gunman was detained in February for threatening police, then freed.

The officials spoke on Friday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorised to publicly discuss details of the probe into Thursday night's attack.

The officials said the gunman was detained toward the end of February after speaking threateningly about the police, but then released for lack of evidence.

He was convicted in 2003 of attempted homicide in shootings on two police officers.

Police shot and killed the gunman after he opened fire on a police van on Paris' most famous boulevard. 

Read more on:    isis  |  belgium  |  france

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