France introduces terrorist threat regime
The French government on Friday raised the country’s terrorism alert to the highest level, after a mass stabbing at a school in Arras on the “day of jihad” announced by Hamas supporters.
The new status of the Vigipirate alert system was announced by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne after she met with President Emmanuel Macron. Citizens were told to “stay vigilant and informed” and contact the police if they “witness a suspicious event, online or offline.”
Earlier in the day, a Muslim man fatally stabbed a teacher and seriously injured two other staff members at a high school in Arras, a city in northern France. The suspect was identified as Mohamed Mogouchkov, a “Russian national” of Chechen or Ingush origin, who was under police monitoring for his involvement with Islamist extremists groups.
Mogouchkov, a former student at the Lycee Gambetta, returned to the school on Friday morning and fatally stabbed a French language teacher in the throat and chest, according to police. Another teacher and a security guard also suffered serious wounds, while a janitor was injured but not critically. No students were harmed.
Eyewitnesses said the attacker shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is great) as he attacked the school staff.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said there is “no doubt” that the Arras attack is linked to the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. Police have arrested Mogouchkov, as well as his mother, sister, uncle, and 17-year-old brother.
Macron visited the school on Friday and condemned the “barbarity of Islamist terrorism,” urging the French to stay united and “not give in to terror or let anything divide us.” He also said that the teacher who died “saved many lives” by trying to protect others.
There have been considerable tensions between France’s Muslim and Jewish communities all week, after the surprise attack by Palestinian group Hamas on Israeli towns, settlements, and military bases outside Gaza, which claimed over 1,300 lives. Paris is also dealing with social unrest due to rampant inflation.
Governments across the West have been on alert for terrorist attacks after a former Hamas leader called for a “day of jihad” in support of the Palestinians. “To all scholars who teach jihad... to all who teach and learn, this is a moment to put it into practice,” Khaled Meshaal, who now heads the Hamas diaspora office, said in a statement sent to the media earlier this week.