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French police officers. Photo: Bernie Almanzar

Identity of Charlie Hebdo terror suspect called into question

The identity of the main suspect in the attack that left two injured in Paris recently outside the former Charlie Hebdo premises, has been called into question.

Published: October 6, 2020, 8:28 am

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    The investigators in charge of this violent attack with a meat cleaver in Paris are wondering about the real identity of the suspect. The man, currently in police custody, has so far introduced himself as Hassan A, an 18-year-old Pakistani.

    But searches on his cell phone allowed investigators to discover the photo of an identity document. On it, he is actually known as “Zaheer Hassan Mehmood” and is 25 years old, sources told AFP, confirming the information from Le Monde.

    It is under this identity that this man introduced himself in a video recorded before the attack and authenticated by the investigators. In this two-minute document, which circulated over the weekend on social networks, the assailant who presented himself as “Zaheer Hassan Mehmood” declared himself “moved” by “the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed that have been made”.

    “Today, Friday, September 25, I will condemn them” he added in the video, claiming to have as a “guide” Mullah Ilyas Qadri, leader of Dawat-e-Islami, an “apolitical and non-violent” religious group of Sufi inspiration, based in Pakistan.

    The assailant has admitted his crime and has acknowledged having wanted to attack Charlie Hebdo, but he had been unaware that the editorial staff had moved to a secret place since the 2015 attacks. His police custody was extended by 48 hours on Sunday.

    From the start, investigators were intrigued by his “young” age . The suspect looked much older than the 18 years he claimed to be.

    Seven other suspects were still being held in police custody on Monday: three former roommates of the main suspect in his apartment in Pantin, his little brother, an acquaintance and another person currently heard by the French domestic intelligence service, the DGSI.

    In Pakistan, massive protests led by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a political party launched in 2015, were held in various cities like Islamabad, Multan and Karachi, with the French flag being burnt across the country.  They called for the expulsion of the French Ambassador Marc Barety and suspension of diplomatic ties with France.

    It could be a warning signal that the country might soon “emerge as the largest breeding ground of potential terror recruits” Roland Jacquard, Chairman of Roland Jacquard Global Security Consulting (RJGSC), told Global Watch Analysis.

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