French quiz attacker’s parents, friend - Taipei Times
Tue, May 15, 2018 - Page 7 News List

French quiz attacker’s parents, friend

CRITICS:Right-wing politicians want to know why Paris is not taking measures against people suspected of being radicalized, but who have not yet committed any crimes

AP, PARIS

A policeman on Sunday stands guard outside a building where a man was arrested in Strasbourg, France, who was suspected to be related to a man suspected of killing one man and injuring four in a knife attack in Paris on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

French police yesterday questioned the parents and a friend of a 20-year-old man who attacked passers-by with a knife in Paris, amid questions about how France’s radical watch list is used.

Khamzat Azimov, a French citizen born in the Russian republic of Chechnya, killed one person and wounded four in Saturday’s attack, before police fatally shot him.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

Azimov’s parents and a friend from Strasbourg were being detained by police.

Under French law, people questioned in an investigation relating to alleged terrorism can be held in custody for up to four days.

A judicial official yesterday said the suspect was living in the 18th district of Paris with his family, which had previously lived in Strasbourg.

The official was not authorized to speak publicly on the ongoing investigation.

Counterterrorism investigators want to know if the assailant had help or co-conspirators.

French authorities said Azimov was on both of France’s main watch lists for suspected radicals — the so-called “S file” and a more targeted File for the Prevention of Terrorist Radicalization (FSPRT), which focuses on people judged to be terror threats — since 2016, but he had a clean criminal record.

One source said he had been questioned last year “because he knew a man who was in contact with a person who had gone to Syria.”

About half of the nearly 20,000 people on the FSPRT watch list are under active surveillance.

Conservative Republicans Party leader Laurent Wauquiez on Sunday criticized the government’s “blindness” and “inaction.”

His party called on French President Emmanuel Macron to take measures to “preventively intern the most dangerous individuals” listed as radicalized.

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen asked in a tweet what the “S” list was for if it was not used to stop potential attackers.

French authorities have previously said that the file, designed as a tool for intelligence services, contains the names of thousands of individuals suspected of being radicalized, but who have yet to perform acts of terrorism.

French Minister of the Interior Gerard Collomb was scheduled yesterday to hold a meeting with France’s prefects in charge of defense and security.

Azimov obtained French nationality in 2010 after his mother was naturalized, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told French television.

He also defended the government, saying it had foiled 22 terror attacks over the past 15 months.

“Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as zero risk,” he said.

Azimov was born in the largely Muslim Russian republic of Chechnya, where extremism has long simmered.

Chechens have been among the numerous foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, some joining the Islamic State cause early in the fighting.

French media report the victim killed in the attack was a 29-year-old man identified only by his first name, Ronan, who was living in the 13th district of Paris.

One of his neighbors told reporters he was a “very smiling” man, with a “great generosity.”

A 34-year-old Chinese man living in Luxembourg and a 54-year-old woman were seriously wounded in the attack, while a 26-year-old woman and a man of 31 were slightly wounded.

Officials said all the wounded were out of danger.

Additional reporting by AFP

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