– FRENCH SOLDIER STABBED IN PARIS METRO
An unidentified man tabbed a French soldier on patrol with two colleagues in the La Defense business district of Paris, on Saturday 05/25/2013 evening.
Private First Class Cedric Cordier was approached from behind and stabbed in the neck with a small-bladed knife. Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian told reporters that he had been targeted because of his profession. But President Francois HOllande refused to make any direct link with the Woolwich Beheading in London on Wednesday 05/22/2013.
In Saturday’s attack in Paris, Pfc Cordier was on patrol with colleagues from the 4e Regiment de Chasseurs de Gap and police officers at La Defense’s metro and train station, when he was approached from behind and stabbed in the neck with a knife or a box-cutter.
The attacker did not say a word and fled into a crowded shopping area before the two other soldiers who were present were able to react. The soldiers are normally armed with automatic rifles.
A senior police officer said the 23-year-old victim had lost a considerable amount of blood but would survive, and was being treated at the nearby Percy military hospital.
“There are elements – the sudden violence of the attack – that could lead one to believe there might be a comparison with what happened in London,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls told France 2 television. “But at this point, honestly, let us be prudent.”
French reports said police were hunting a bearded man of North African origin about 30 years of age. He was wearing a light-coloured robe called a djellaba. The attacker was monitored on security cameras and was seen taking off his robe and running away wearing European clothes, officers said.
France is on high alert following a threat from the North African MAGHREB al-Qaeda – AQIM, related to the country’s military intervention in Mali (see – Mali Campaign).
The higher state of alert is one of the reasons why some 450 soldiers are on patrol at metro and train stations, and other vulnerable locations in Paris, as part of Plan Vigipirate.
* The suspect, identified by the French prosecutor as Alexandre D. 22, was caught, on early Wednesday 05/29/2013, He admitted carrying out the attack, Paris prosecutor Xavier Molins said. Alexandre D. had converted to Islam and was probably acting on his “religious ideology”, he added. Alexandre D. was known to police for various misdemeanors but did not have a criminal record.
“Other than the praying in the street, there were no other elements that could have indicated he was dangerous,” The head of investigative police Christian Flaesch said although sources told Le Monde newspaper that French intelligence was recently warned the suspect, who converted to Islam around three years ago, was “becoming increasingly radical. Christian Flaesch added that the man was from a “family that seems completely honourable”. Sources close to the investigation said Alexandre D. has been a follower of a “traditionalist even radical Islam for the last three or four years”. He converted to Islam already in 2007.
Alexandre D. was homeless and unemployed. He applied for jobs in Rambouillet where he “demanded not to work with women”.