France,  Islam,  Terrorism

Faits Divers Part 3 : The tap keeps dripping 2019-2023

By Madame le Cerf


2019 was a “slack” year for fatal Jihadi attacks since there was “only” one which took place on 3rd October. Unusually, it was in the headquarters of the Paris Prefecture de Police where the killer worked. He arrived for work as usual and between 11.20 and 11.50 he exchanged 33 texts with his wife. The subsequent investigation found they were of a “religious” nature. He left his office at 12.18 and bought two knives. He mentioned buying the knives in a text sent to his wife shortly before going into action. She replied “Only god will guide you Allahu Akbar”. He returned to the Prefecture and killed three colleagues on the 1st floor of the building before stabbing a woman on the staircase he took to go back down to the courtyard. She died of her wounds later. When he reached the ground floor he stabbed someone who was waiting there for a lift in the throat. When he went out into the courtyard he was shot by a trainee policeman who had been on the job for only 6 days and who opened fire when the killer Michaël Harpon ran toward him brandishing his knife.
Harpon had cut the throat of his first victim and stabbed the others in the chest. Damien Ernest, Anthony Lancelot, Aurélia Trifirio (all police officers in various services) and Brie Le Mescan; an administrative official. Another woman was seriously injured and one other person was less seriously hurt.
Michaël Harpon was the administrative official in charge of the information service covering 1000 people who worked for the DRPP (Direction du Renseignement de la Prefecture de Police de Paris), a branch of the security services with responsibility for Paris and the surrounding region. He had access to police files, message systems within the police and individual access codes and had top ranking security clearance. This would have given him access to, among other information, details of police personnel who had infiltrated mosques. He had converted to Islam more than a decade earlier and frequented the Fauconière mosque at Gonzesses in the Val d’Oise (think Dewsbury!) where the imam was fiché S for being a fundie. The imam said he had never spoken to Harpon but had shaken his hand on several occasions.
In January 2015 one of Harpon’s colleagues had quarrelled with him about the Charlie Hebdo massacre. He said that Harpon had rejoiced after the attack and said “It served them right.”. In July this colleague and another member of the section unofficially tipped off the major in the SDSI (the body charged with internal police security) who was responsible for radicalisation. They pointed out that Harpon had converted, was married to a Muslim and would no longer kiss or even shake hands with female colleagues. According to Christophe Castaner, minister of the Interior at at the time, the major proposed that the tip off should be made official but Harpon’s two colleagues refused and said they would “look after it”. Nothing was put in writing and it went no further up the chain of command.
According to his employers Harpon was a good employee who posed no problems apart from having a degree of frustration because he was deaf and believed he wasn’t progressing in his career as he thought he should.
An investigation was opened for murder and attempted murder of public officials in connection with terrorism. When his wife was questioned she said her husband had been behaving bizarrely and had claimed the night before the attack that he was hearing voices and that Allah had sent him a sign. When it was found that she had been so worried about her husband’s mental state that she had sent a text to one of his colleagues asking him whether he too found Harpon’s behaviour bizarre, she was released.
On searching Harpon’s office the investigators found a USB key with thousands of files. Among them were videos of IS beheadings but, more worryingly, also names and addresses of several dozen of his colleagues. However, the digital experts thought that the former had not been downloaded from the Internet but from police computers and, more important from the security perspective, that the USB key had not been connected to any computers other than those at the Prefecture.
Although Harpon’s attack was acknowledged to look like a typical terrorist attack – the anti-terrorism prosecutor described it as extremely violent given the findings of the autopsies and the fact that the killer was cold-blooded and showed no signs of hesitation – there was an urge to class it as a “Fait Diver” by questioning his motivation. Was it really religious? Or was he just consumed by resentment against his colleagues because he considered himself under-promoted?
None of those arrested and/or questioned, including his wife and the imam of the Gonzesses mosque, were charged with any complicity in the attack. There was a desire on the part of the police authorities to play down the terrorism angle because it made them look bad – why had his radicalisation not been taken more seriously? How many more bad apples were there in the police force or even in the wider security services? Were the procedures for unearthing and weeding out such individuals adequate?
Further investigation of Harpon’s computers and smartphones revealed that an hour before the attack he had done searches using the terms “killing unbelievers” and “kuffars”. According to Le Parisien, sources close to the inquiry described him as having a “hybrid profile” – mixed jihadi and nutter.
Nevertheless, the attack turned the spotlight on the police and stirred up the debate on the detection of Islamists and partisans of jihad at the heart of the authorities charged with combatting radical Islam. It was revealed that 7 police officers has been disarmed after having been accused of radicalisation and that 33 new tip offs had been received since the attack bringing the total to 63 since 2012.


In 2020 there were three fatal jihadi attacks each killing one person. On 3rd January just berfore 2 p.m. Nathan Chiasson started his attack in the Haute- Bruyères park in Villejuif on the outskirts of Paris. Shouting “Allahu Akbar” he targeted a passer-by. The victim told the aggressor that he was a Muslim and Chiasson demanded that he recite a prayer in Arabic. The man complied and the attacker left him unharmed and went after other targets. He attacked a couple going for the woman first. Her husband, Janusz Michalski, 56, tried to defend her and was fatally stabbed in the heart. Chiasson continued his attack on the wife and wounded her severely in the neck. He then attacked a female jogger stabbing her in the back several times. Several other people were attacked and a park keeper and a homeless person were threatened before the police arrived and shot Chiasson dead.
Chiasson did not fit the typical jihadi profile found here. He did not become a Muslim until he had reached the age of 20 in 2017. He had a history of psychiatric problems and drug addiction and was known to the police for minor offences but not suspected of radicalisation or fiché S. However, the preliminary investigations showed that he had planned his attack down to the last detail and indicated that he was expecting to die at the end of it.
His girlfriend, also a recent convert to Islam, admitted under interrogation that she wanted to kill police officers. She too had a history of psychiatric problems but she was released rather than hospitalised because the examining psychiatrist found “nothing wrong with her”!
Chiasson’s psychiatric history bolstered those who wished to classify the attack under “faits divers” carried out by a “désequilibré”. His mother’s evidence helped them too. She put forward the motivation of an imam having refused to perform an Islamic marriage with the girlfriend, Marie M., because they had not had a civil marriage first. But the existence of a letter envisaging his death and Salafist literature in his rucksack pointed to a jihadi motive. After all, if you just want to commit suicide you aren’t likely to go about it by stabbing passers-by unless you’re seeking to die on the path of jihad. The journalist, Céline Pina, has pointed out that all the elements of the attack, shouting “Allahu Akbar”, wearing a jellaba and carrying out the attack on a Friday as well as the literature found in Chiasson’s belongings suggested an Islamist attack. This hypothesis is also supported by his having spared someone because he was a Muslim. The efforts on the part of the left wing press and even Emmanuel Macron himself in his tweets to ignore this were typical of the wilful refusal (shared by the majority of our elected representatives) to face up to the nature of the threat confronting us.


The second fatal attack of 2020 shocked France profoundly as it brought into sharp focus the problems in the schools- problems which had been present and gradually worsening for decades but which had been studiously ignored by politicians and civil servants in the Department of Education. I will expand on this in a future article.

On 16th October a history/geography teacher, Samuel Paty, was stabbed and beheaded shortly after leaving his school at Confolens-Ste.- Marie-Honorine. The killer, Abdoulakh Anzarov was an 18 year old Russian citizen of Chechen origin, who had refugee status which his parents had been granted when he was still a minor. He was shot dead by the police a few minutes after the attack.
Unlike some other attacks here where the terrorists act at random, Paty was deliberately targeted due to a social media campaign against him orchestrated by Islamists. 10 days previously, in the course of a civics lesson on freedom of expression, Paty had shown his class two of the cartoons of Mohammed, which had been published five years earlier by the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo. He had warned the class that some of them might find the images upsetting and given them the option of looking away.
One of the pupils, Zaina Chnina, reported this to her father and he, along with a militant Islamist preacher, Abdelhakim Sefrioui, put out videos on social media accusing Paty of being a “hooligan” and a “sicko”. His name and the name of his school featured in the videos. The videos went viral and there were calls for him to be killed. These videos were based on a lie as was shown in November when it was revealed that the girl at their origin had not been present in the class that day.
The cartoons which Paty, who was well liked and respected as a teacher, showed were in the context of of the murderous attack at Charlie Hebdo and, according to former pupils, he used this material every year with previously provoking negative reactions from pupils or their parents. Brahim Chnina, the girl’s father, said that Paty had asked the Muslim pupils to raise their hands and then told them to leave the class. Whether or not he knew his daughter was lying when she spun him a tale about Paty having shown the class a photo of a naked man and saying it was the “Prophet” is known only to him. One of the accusatory videos that was put up by Chnina was shown on the Facebook page of the Pantin mosque.
Abdelhakim Sefrioui, the radical Islamist made another video. He had visited the school with Chnina to demand that the principal sack Paty and threaten demonstrations unless she complied. For several days they hung about outside the school agitating and trying to mobilise other parents against Paty. On 8th October Chnina started a prosecution against Paty for “showing pornographic images”. Unfortunately, French law allows private citizens to mount this kind of nuisance complaint.
On the same day the principal of the school sent an email to all the parents explaining the circumstances of the course and saying that she and Paty would be available if any further clarification was required. On 12th October Chnina put out another video, this time on YouTube, and the principal later confirmed that this resulted in threatening phone calls to the school. The same day Paty was interviewed by the police and started a prosecution for defamation and false accusations. Accompanied by the principal he formally denied the accusations made by Brahim Chnina and his daughter.
In the days preceding the attack the terrorist, Abdoulakh Anzarov, exchanged WhatsApp messages with Chnina. On 16th October Anzarov was driven by a friend, Naim Boudaoud, from Evreux where he was living to Confolens-Ste.- Marie-Honorine where the Bois d’Aulne school was situated. Although he knew Paty’s name he had no way of identifying him. He loitered around for an hour and at 14.40 he approached a 17 year old pupil and offered him 300€ in exchange for information which would enable him to identify Paty and gave him an advance of 150€. He explained that he wanted to humiliate Paty, force him to apologise and beat him up while filming the event. Around 15.50 the two men were joined by four more pupils. With the aid of the first pupil, they gave Anzorov a detailed physical description of Paty and showed him the start of the route he used every day to return home. The first pupil phoned Zaina Chnina, who was a close friend of his elder sister and she repeated her lies to Anzorov who became angry. At 16.51 Paty left the school and was immediately identified by the first pupil and one of the four others who had joined them. Anzorov gave the remaining 150€ of the bribe to the five pupils who shared it out and moved away as he instructed. He uploaded to Snapchat a video in which he asked for “duas” (Islamic prayers) and then hurled himself on Paty shouting “Allahu Akbar”. He stabbed him 17 times with one of his knives hitting the lungs, right kidney and aorta. He then disembowelled him and cut off his head with the other knife, a Japanese chef’s knife. He placed the head about 30 cm from the body and photographed them and uploaded the image to Twitter. He then sent an Instagram message to two contacts based in Idlib in Syria saying that he had avenged the prophet Mohammed by killing the teacher who had shown Mohammed in an offensive manner. At the same time the municipal police had discovered Paty’s remains and sent for the BAC (Brigade anti- Criminalité). When they saw Anzorov carrying his knives they repeatedly shouted orders to drop his weapons. He ran at them shouting “Allahu Akbar” and shooting at them 5 times with an air pistol. Despite realising that the weapon was not a firearm the police shot him. Anzorov fell to the ground but tried to stab one of the officers in the legs, whereupon they shot him dead.
Anzorov was a typical “usual suspect”. Although not known to the security services he was known to the police for vandalism and gang violence. The investigation revealed that his radicalisation was known to his entourage. He had expressed a desire to join the Taliban in Afghanistan to a radical preacher from Dagestan and had contacts in Syria. His Twitter account was full of jihadi themes. To the disgust of most French people his body was repatriated to his family village in Chechnya where it received a hero’s welcome as a “lion of Islam”.
The adults who were charged as accomplices in this attack, including Brahim Chnina and Abdelhakim Sefrioui, have not yet come to trial. In November last year the 6 minors who were implicated in the assassination – the lying Zaina Chnina and the 5 involved in identifying Paty- were convicted and given suspended prison sentences or “aménagement de peine”, which means serving the sentence at home with an electronic bracelet. So, basically, slaps on the wrist. Paty was named “Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur” and given a national homage ceremony at the Sorbonne. Roads in several communes have named after him as have 3 schools.
The reaction to this horrible murder was international. Despite condolences from many countries an Islamist campaign against France was orchestrated with countries such as Pakistan, Turkey, Kuwait and Qatar calling for a boycott of French commodities. The Elysée denounced the campaign and pointed the finger at Turkey as the ringleader, objecting to Erdogan’s implication that Macron was mentally ill and had a hostile attitude to Islam (if only). The French ambassador to Turkey was recalled. Trudeau gave a truly dhimmi response, saying that freedom of expression had limits and should not lead to people being hurt (tr. “Don’t say anything which might upset a violent fanatic”.).
In France the majority of the population was horrified. An opinion poll showed that 79% of French people polled thought that Islamism had declared war on the French Republic and 87% thought that laicité was in danger. 78% thought that that teachers were justified in using cartoons in lessons on freedom of expression. However, about 400 incidents were reported for the minute of silence organised in schools as part of the national homage to Samuel Paty on 2nd November. Of these 160 were refusal to participate or disturbing the silence and some 150 were outright glorification of terrorism. Some of them involved children as young as 8.
There was an outbreak of anti-Muslim sentiment on social media, some mosques were defaced with graffiti and there was a call to burn down the mosque at Beziers. More concretely the Ministry of the Interior banned the CCIF ( a cross between the MCB in the U.K. or CAIR in the U.S.A. and more radical associations) and Barakacity, a Muslim“charity”.


The final fatal terrorist attack of 2020 took place on 29th October in the cathedral of Notre Dame de l’Assomption in Nice. The killer, Brahim Issaoui was seen early in the morning at the station in Nice. He spent about an hour in a prayer room behind the station. He then walked the 400 metres to the cathedral and went in at 8.29. About 30 minutes later he attacked 3 people, the sacristan Vincent Loquès, Nadine Devillers, a 60 year old woman whose throat he cut and another woman, Simone Barreto Silva, who managed to flee before collapsing and dying of her wounds. Alerted by a witness who had sheltered the second woman in his bar, the police arrived and tasered Issaoui in order to arrest him. But when he continued running toward them shouting “Allahu Akbar”, they shot him and took him to a hospital.
The subsequent investigation revealed an all too familiar story. A Tunisian from the region of Sfax, Issaoui was a petty criminal involved in violence and drugs who had been radicalised in 2018. According to his family, he managed to cross the Mediterranean, after being rescued by an NGO boat and landed on Lampedusa. He arrived clandestinely in Nice, apparently coming by train from Rome. So far he has not come to trial.


There was only one terrorist attack in 2021. The victim was a policewoman, Stéphanie Monfermé, who worked in administration at the police station in Rambouillet. In the afternoon of 23rd April Jamel Gorchene, a delivery driver, arrived in the vicinity of the police station. He chose his victim who was returning from her lunch break, seized her, pushed her up against one of the glass side of the station security lock and stabbed her twice in the abdomen and then, fatally, in the throat. She died of her wounds in hospital. Witnesses said Gorchene shouted “Allahu Akbar”. A policeman shot him dead. He was a Tunisian who had arrived illegally in France in 2009, got permission to stay in France and in December 2020 was given a “carte de séjour”. When he arrived in France he met up with Mohamed Lahoniej Bouhel, a childhood friend ,who went on to commit the Nice lorry massacre in 2016. After the Samuel Paty murder Gorchene joined a Facebook campaign called “Respect Mohamed the prophet of God”. According to journalist Nicolas Beare his Facebook profile showed clearly that he had slowly become radicalised but escaped the notice of the anti-terrorist services. Just before his attack he had watched videos glorifying jihad and “martyrs”.
Stéphanie Monfermé was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur posthumously and given a national homage at Rambouillet.


The two terrorist attacks of 2023 took place following the Hamas pogrom in Israel in October. The first, on 13th October at the Lycée Gambetta in Arras resulted in the death of Dominique Bernard, 57, a literature teacher who was fatally stabbed in the throat and chest while trying to protect his pupils. Three other members of the school’s personnel were also wounded, two of them severely. The killer was quickly caught and detained for questioning by the police as was his younger brother who was seen charging about outside another school in the city.
The killer, Mohamed Mogouchkov, 20, is an Islamist of Ingushetian origin with Russian citizenship. He arrived in France with his family in 2008. Their claim for asylum was refused in 2014 but, following their refusal to board the plane which was to deport them to Moscow, their case was taken up by several associations and they were allowed to stay in France.
Mogouchkov’s elder brother has terrorist convictions and was imprisoned in June 2023 for glorification of terrorism. Mohamed Mogouchkov was himself fiché S.
Just before acting Mogouchkov made an audio recording in which he pledged allegiance to the Caliph of IS, Abu Hafs al-Hashemi al Qureshi and declared his hatred for France, the French, democracy and the education system calling us cowardly unbelievers who had pushed him towards hell.
At about 11 o’clock Mogouchkov arrived at the school on foot armed with 2 knives and attacked Bernard. Another teacher, David Vertraghe, tried to help Bernard and was stabbed in the face and throat. At this moment the intruder alarm went off and all the pupils and staff were confined inside. Mogouchkov made his way into the school and went to the courtyard behind the building where some men tried to overpower him with what came to hand -a chair. Christian Berroyo, a caretaker, was slightly hurt and his colleague, Jacques Davoli, suffered serious wounds to his neck and chest when he stepped in after Berroyo was incapacitated. When the police arrived Mogouchkov was tasered and arrested.
Bernard was a well-liked and very cultured teacher. He had co-founded an adult education association in Arras where he regularly gave talks on philosophy, literature and music. He was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur posthumously.
The attack took place on a Friday. That particular Friday had been designated by Hamas as a “Day of Jihad”. It was also the 3rd anniversary of the murder of Samuel Paty. It is not known whether these facts figured in Mogouchkov’s motivations as he has refused to discuss the attack. This apparently random fatal attack on another teacher has understandably increased fear among the teaching profession. There was a minute of silence in memory of Samuel Paty and Dominique Bernard on 16 th October at 14.00. More than 500 instances of refusal to comply were recorded in schools. 179 pupils who chose not to comply were referred to the Procureur de la République (equivalent to the CPS in the UK and the DA in the U.S.). Attal who was Minister of Education at the time said that there were dozens of cases of glorification of terrorism and in the meantime those students would be suspended. He had sent out a circular on 14th October calling for all schools and colleges to report all violations of the minute of silence so that the perpetrators could be severely sanctioned, and he told the press that the times of “Don’t make waves” in educational establishments was over. Basically, what “Don’t make waves” meant was “Turn a blind eye to manifestations of Islamism”.

The final attack of 2023 took place on 2nd December at the Bir Hakeim bridge over the Seine in Paris. At 21.00 the perpetrator, Armand Rajbpour-Miyandoab published a video on his Twitter account in which he declared in Arabic that, as we unbelievers were making war on Allah and his messenger, we would be pursued until the Day of Judgement. He called on other Muslims to to continue the jihad against us and declared allegiance to the caliph of ISIS. A few minutes later he attacked a group of 3 Filipino tourists and fatally stabbed one of them in the back and shoulder. He threatened the victim’s girlfriend but a taxi driver intervened. The assailant fled across the bridge and attacked a British family on the other side. hitting a 60-year-old man in the right eye with a hammer.
When the police arrived on the scene he ran away and hit a passer-by in the face with his hammer. He was then cornered by the police and threatened them with his hammer shouting “Allahu Akbar”. When he warned them that he was wearing a suicide belt, they immobilised him with 2 taser shots.
Rajbpour-Miyandoab was known to the security services and fiché S. He was the son of non-Muslim Iranian parents and converted to Islam in 2015. He was sent to prison for terrorist offences in 2018. The investigation found that he had communicated with other terrorists who had carried out attacks in France, among them Larissi Abballa the murderer of the police couple in Magnanville in 2016 and Adel Kermiche, one of the St. Etienne de Rouvray jihadis.
He told the police that he would not put up with the killing of Muslims in Afghanistan and Palestine and that France was complicit in Israel’s war in Gaza.
The tourist murdered was Cellin Christian Brote, 23 , a student nurse of German-Philippine nationality. German prosecutors have opened an enquiry which will run in parallel with the French one.
Despite the obvious Islamist nature of the attack, Maurice Bompard of the France Insoumise party called for people not to impute any political significance to the attack which was he said “obviously the work of a deranged person” i.e. a fait divers.


In this 3 part series I have covered only those attacks which resulted in one or more deaths. There have been many other terrorist attacks which were not lethal but caused injury in many cases serious. France is the worst hit country in Europe for Islamist terrorist attacks.