Paris attacker wanted to set Charlie Hebdo offices on fire, prosecutor says

PARIS (REUTERS) – A Pakistani man accused of wounding two people with a meat cleaver in front of the former offices of Charlie Hebdo last Friday (Sept 25) did not know the satirical magazine had moved and wanted to set its offices on fire, the Paris prosecutor said.

Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard told a news conference that the suspect carried three bottles of white spirit, a flammable paint thinner.

He also said the man had operated under a false identity and that a photo of his passport on his phone showed that he was 25 years old, not 18 as he first said.

“His initial plan was to enter into the office of the magazine, possibly with the help of a hammer, and then to set it on fire with the bottles of white spirit,” Mr Ricard said.

In 2015, 12 people were killed by gunmen who attacked Charlie Hebdo’s office in revenge for the publication of cartoons that mocked the Prophet Muhammad.

After the attack, the weekly moved its headquarters to an undisclosed location. It republished some of the cartoons this month to mark the beginning of the trial of 14 people with alleged links to the killers.

Mr Ricard said that as the suspect arrived in the street where the magazine was previously based, he saw the two victims and attacked them, thinking that they worked for the magazine.

Mr Ricard said the man had reconnoitred the area on three separate days shortly before his attack, and had bought the meat cleaver on the day of the attack.

“In his telephone, we found a three-minute video in Urdu, in which he announces his plan, saying that ‘here in France they make caricatures about our pure and great Prophet Muhammad. Today… I will revolt against this’,” Mr Ricard said.

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