Louvre attacker wanted to damage artwork, 'avenge' Syrian people

Louvre attacker wanted to damage artwork, 'avenge' Syrian people
An Egyptian man arrested after attacking soldiers outside the Louvre museum in Paris last week said he only wanted to damage paintings and "avenge" the Syrian people.
2 min read
09 February, 2017
Al-Hamahmy said he only planned to damage artworks as a symbolic assault on France [AFP]

A 29-year-old Egyptian arrested after a machete attack at the Louvre in Paris last week has said he only planned to damage artworks as a symbolic assault on France, a judicial source said.

Police have confirmed the attacker as Abdallah al-Hamahmy, a sales manager resident in Dubai, who has said he "acted on his own will", denying during interrogations being guided by the Islamic State group.

Although his backpack contained spray paint, which could have been used to deface artwork, investigators believe he appears to have "a certain sympathy for the ideas of IS", the source said.

The suspect also said he wanted to "avenge the Syrian people", the source said, referring to the civil war in that country in which hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced.

In Friday's attack at the world's busiest museum, Hamahmy was shot after lunging at four soldiers with a machete in the underground ticketing area while shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest).

Hamahmy, who is recovering in hospital, is likely be charged once medical staff say he is well enough to appear before a judge.

However, his police custody was lifted late on Tuesday, as his health had "greatly deteriorated" during the day, the source said, without elaborating.

The son of a retired policeman entered France legally on 26 January on a flight from Dubai and was staying in an apartment rented by the week in an expensive Paris district near the Champs-Elysees, sources say.

Investigators are examining a Twitter account thought to be his which sent out a dozen messages in Arabic between 9:27 am and 9:34 am, just minutes before the attack.

"In the name of Allah... for our brothers in Syria and fighters across the world," one said.

Another post asked: "Why are they afraid of the creation of a state for Islam? Because the state of Islam defends its resources and the honour of Muslims."

Hamahmy's father Reda al-Hamahmy, a retired police officer, told AFP in Cairo that his son had shown no sign of having been radicalised.

He said the family was relatively well off, with Abdallah earning a law degree in the Nile delta city of Mansoura in 2010 before moving to Dubai to become a sales manager.

The father said the suspect's wife was pregnant with the couple's second child and was currently in Saudi Arabia.

The Louvre assault revived fears of violence in France, which suffered a string of attacks that killed 238 people between January 2015 and July 2016.

Agencies contributed to this report.