According to an internal police source, he had “claimed responsibility for a terrorist act”. Initially, the government tried to downplay the jihadist attack in north-eastern France.
A source from the gendarmerie said they were “trying to determine the man’s motives” and “whether the incident could be terrorism-related”. They said the attacker had not been known to the French counter-terrorist authorities, nor did he have any criminal record according to local media.
But according to information obtained by Valeurs Actuelles, the attacker is a young 19-year-old soldier in training. According to several corroborating sources, he began his education two months ago. A first investigation by the DRSD [Directorate of Intelligence and Defense Security] carried out as it should for any new recruit had not detected any signs of radicalism nor “any threat”.
“Even when they claim it before the attack, we don’t consider it terrorist,” said Damien Rieu. Rieu, whose real name is Damien Lefèvre, is one of the main personalities of the identity movement in France. In 2019, he became the parliamentary assistant to MEP Philippe Olivier, elected by the National Rally.
Même quand ils revendiquent avant l’attentat on ne considère pas ça terroriste 😭 pic.twitter.com/yF5hbJJs6O
— Damien Rieu (@DamienRieu) February 4, 2020
The attacker, who reportedly entered the barracks wearing civilian clothing, attacked the Dieuze gendarmerie on Monday just after the telephone call of an individual who threatened to commit a “carnage” on behalf of the Islamic State.
Even if the link between these telephone threats and the attack which left two wounded – the assailant and a gendarme who opened fire on him – has not yet been formally established, the Metz prosecution said on Monday evening that it had “obviously made contact with the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office of Paris”.
In the “call received by the operational center of the Gendarmerie shortly before” the attack, the individual “declared that he was a soldier, that there was going to be carnage in Dieuze and that he claimed to represent the ‘Islamic State’,” the prosecutor told the media.
It all started around 3pm with telephone threats received by the operational center. They were “taken seriously”, according to Colonel Nicolas Philippotin, commander of the research section of the Metz gendarmerie, and the threats were very quickly transmitted to the Dieuze gendarmerie. So that “when the individual was seen, the link was made” and the gendarmes immediately intervened, he explained.
Having managed to enter the barracks’ offices, the assailant then faced a gendarme who shot him “twice”, wounding him in the abdomen, in “a scene of some violence,” the public prosecutor noted. The attacker wounded one officer in the hand before he was shot, a spokesman for the gendarmerie said.
Transported to Metz hospital, the 19-year-old soldier who “joined the army in early December” was operated on, the source said.
As for the gendarme who shot, he was “lightly injured in the arm by the stab and hospitalized”, according to prosecutor Christian Mercuri. “We must relate the facts to a call received by the operational center of the gendarmerie shortly before, in which an individual declared that he was a soldier, that there was going to be carnage in Dieuze and that he was a member of Islamic State,” Mercuri noted.
Several hours after the attack, there had been no claims of responsibility according to RT. A judicial source told RT that the national anti-terrorist prosecutor was not investigating the case.