2013 La Défense attack

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2013 La Défense attack
Location La Défense, France
Date 25 May 2013
6 pm CEST (UTC+02:00)
Target A representative of the French state
Attack type
Stabbing, Terrorism
Weapons Knife
Deaths 0
Non-fatal injuries
1 (Cédric Cordier)
Victim Cédric Cordier
Suspected perpetrator
Alexandre Dhaussy
Participant 1

On the afternoon of 25 May 2013, French soldier Cédric Cordier was attacked and stabbed by a man in the Paris suburb of La Défense in what has been described as a terrorist attack. The attack occurred three days in the aftermath of the murder of a British soldier in Woolwich, London, which may have inspired a copycat attack.[1][2][3][4][5]

Background[edit]

In March 2012, French-Algerian Islamic terrorist Mohammed Merah went on a series of shooting sprees targeting soldiers and Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse and Montauban, southern France.[2] France was also on a state of high alert due to a threat from al-Qaeda in North Africa. The threat was sent in response to the French campaign to liberate northern Mali from Islamist occupation. Due to the alert, some 450 soldiers were placed on patrol in train stations and other locations in Paris.[1][2]

On Wednesday 22 May 2013, British soldier Lee Rigby was killed by two Christian converts to Islam, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale.[1]

Attack[edit]

In late afternoon, Saturday 25 May 2013, Private first class Cédric Cordier was patrolling a busy underground hall in La Défense in uniform with two other servicemen. Around 6 p.m., a man approached Cordier from behind and attacked him with a knife. The attacker stabbed Cordier in the neck and fled into a crowded shopping area before the other servicemen could react.[1][6][7][8] The attacker stabbed the soldier several times, narrowly missing Cordier's jugular vein and carotid artery.[9][10]

Victim[edit]

The soldier attacked was 23-year-old Private first class Cédric Cordier. He was stabbed in the neck and had lost a considerable amount of blood; however, his injuries were not life-threatening. He was in a stable condition and was treated at a nearby military hospital.[1] He was released by 29 May.[11]

Some sources described Cordier as 25 years old; others identified him as Cédric Cordiez.

Suspect[edit]

The suspected attacker was then-21-year-old Alexandre Dhaussy, a recent Christian convert to Islam.[10] He turned 22 on 30 May. Dhaussy, unemployed and homeless, was already known to police since 2009 for petty crimes.[11] He was known as becoming more radicalized in February, but had not been considered dangerous. Prosecutor François Molins said that Dhaussy's attack was believed to be motivated by his Islamic belief.[12][13][14][15][16] In 2012, the police stopped him when he acted suspicious as he did not want to wait for a bus with women; in 2011, he refused a job that involved working with women.[17][18]

Investigation[edit]

French Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian said Cordier was targeted "because he was a soldier". The case was assigned to a counter-terrorism prosecutor.[1][19] The attacker, a "tall, athletic, bearded man", was recorded on security cameras wearing a light-colored robe called djellaba. He was seen saying a Muslim prayer before the attack.[11] The attacker took off his robe and fled in European clothing.[2][20]

On Wednesday 29 May, Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls stated that a man—later identified as Alexandre Dhaussy—was arrested in the morning in Yvelines. The suspect was traced from DNA found on a plastic bag left at the scene and was identified by fingerprint.[21][22] He admitted the attack to the police who arrested him. Prosecutor François Molins said that Dhaussy "wanted to attack a representative of the state" and "acted in the name of his religious ideology", considering the character and timing of the attack.[13][14][15][16] Molins also stated that Dhaussy stabbed Cordier with a "fairly clear intent to kill".[11][23]

Legal proceedings[edit]

On Friday 31 May, Dhaussy appeared before anti-terrorism judges Thierry Fragnoli and Gilbert Thiel, who determined there was enough evidence to proceed with an investigation. He was placed under formal investigation for "attempted murder linked to a terrorist enterprise", which means there is "serious or consistent evidence" of the suspect's implication in the crime.[12][17] Dhaussy repeatedly invoked the name of Allah (God) during his detention.[24]

Reactions[edit]

Government response[edit]

Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian said he was determined to lead "an implacable fight against terrorism".[1] Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls warned of growing radicalization of young French Muslims online and by extremist imams.[13][9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "French soldier in uniform stabbed in Paris". BBC News. 25 May 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Knife attack on soldier in Paris treated as terrorism". BBC News. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Burns, John F. (25 May 2013). "Call for Calm After 3 New Arrests in British Soldier's Death". The New York Times (London, UK). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Allen, Peter (26 May 2013). "Woolwich copycat attack: French police study CCTV footage in manhunt for soldier's attacker". The Daily Telegraph (Paris). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Allen, Peter (26 May 2013). "Manhunt continues for suspected terrorist in Paris soldier stabbing". The Daily Telegraph (Paris). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Bertin, Nicolas (25 May 2013). "French soldier stabbed while on patrol near Paris". Paris. Reuters. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Chrisafis, Angelique (26 May 2013). "French police hunt man who stabbed soldier in Paris". The Guardian (Paris). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Willsher, Kim (27 May 2013). "French anti-terrorism police hunt man who stabbed soldier". The Guardian (Paris). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Vinocur, Nicholas (26 May 2013). "French soldier's stabbing could be act of terrorism: minister". Paris. Reuters. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Samuel, Henry (29 May 2013). "Police: 'radical' Muslim confesses to stabbing French soldier". The Daily Telegraph (Paris). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Suspect 'admits soldier knife attack in Paris'". BBC News. 29 May 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "French soldier stabbing: Man on terrorism-linked charges". BBC News. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c Erlanger, Steven (29 May 2013). "Man Held in France in Attack on Soldier". The New York Times (Paris). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Love, Brian; John, Mark (29 May 2013). "French stabbing 'religiously motivated': prosecutor". Paris. Reuters. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Sage, Alexandria (29 May 2013). "Attack on French soldier had Islamist motivation: prosecutor". Paris. Reuters. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Sage, Alexandria (29 May 2013). "Attack on French soldier had religious motivation: prosecutor". Paris. Reuters. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Sage, Alexandria; Labbe, Chine (31 May 2013). Heinrich, Mark, ed. "Suspected attacker of French soldier under terror investigation". Paris. Reuters. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  18. ^ Samuel, Henry (29 May 2013). "Radical Muslim who stabbed French soldier was known to intelligence". The Daily Telegraph (Paris). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  19. ^ Alexander, Harriet; Allen, Peter (25 May 2013). "French soldier stabbed in Paris". The Daily Telegraph (Paris). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  20. ^ Samuel, Henry (27 May 2013). "Paris police search for 'bearded man seen praying' before soldier attack". The Daily Telegraph (Paris). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  21. ^ Sage, Alexandria (29 May 2013). Stonestreet, John; John, Mark, eds. "Suspect arrested in attack on French soldier". Paris. Reuters. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  22. ^ Samuel, Henry (29 May 2013). "Police arrest 'radical' Muslim over French soldier's stabbing". The Daily Telegraph (Paris). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  23. ^ Willsher, Kim (29 May 2013). "Man arrested over attack on French soldier". The Guardian (Paris). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  24. ^ Irvine, Chris, ed. (31 May 2013). "Islamic convert charged with attempting to kill French soldier". The Daily Telegraph. Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 19 July 2013.