Paris police station attacker had no Islamist network links: Germany
January 22 2016 05:27 PM
Tarek Belgacem
Tarek Belgacem


A man who tried to attack a police station in Paris this month had no links to Islamist networks, German authorities said Friday after carrying out new raids in a refugee shelter where he lived.

Investigations "over the past two weeks have brought no indications of any Islamist network" connected to the man, said Uwe Jacob, police chief of North Rhine-Westphalia state.

The attacker, identified as Tarek Belgacem by Tunisian authorities, was shot dead by French police as he attempted his assault on January 7 -- the one-year anniversary of the jihadist attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Three days after the botched attack, German police raided an apartment at a shelter for asylum seekers in Recklinghausen, in the west of the country, where the man lived.

Officers found an imitation handgun that can fire flares and tear gas, called "gas pistols" in Germany, and a mobile phone containing pictures "typical of the Islamic State organisation" as well as photos of Osama bin Laden.

But the images appeared to have been downloaded from the Internet.

The man had used at least 20 identities and given different countries as his nationality in his dealings with European authorities, Jacob said.

He was registered as a Georgian in Sweden, and as an Iraqi in France.

However, using fingerprinting, German investigators have finally managed to pull together details about the man under one identity.

"We know therefore that he is a known offender who had flouted laws on weapons ownership, drugs, as well as for inflicting bodily harm and sexual offences," said Jacob.

Police gunned down Belgacem as he tried to attack the police station in northern Paris armed with a meat cleaver and wearing a fake suicide vest, shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great), according to Paris prosecutors.

Police said they found a handwritten note on his body in which he pledged allegiance to the jihadist Islamic State group.

His father, Taoufik Belgacem, on Wednesday filed a complaint alleging his son was murdered by police.

He denied that Tarek was a jihadist, describing him as "normal, like all young people, a good person."

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