French Knife Attacker Was Radicalized, Anti-Terrorism Prosecutors Say

January 5, 2020 Updated: January 5, 2020

PARIS—France’s anti-terrorism prosecutors who took over the investigation of a fatal knife rampage near Paris said they had established that the attacker had been radicalized and had carefully planned an act intended to spread terror.

A man identified only as Nathan C. fatally stabbed one person Jan. 3 in a park in Villejuif, just outside Paris, and wounded two others. The attacker, who had a history of drug and psychiatric problems, was shot dead by police.

“While the troubling psychiatric problems of the individual have indeed been confirmed, the investigations carried out in the last few hours have allowed us to establish a definite radicalization of the suspect, as well as evidence of planning and preparation carried out before the act,” the anti-terrorism prosecutor’s department said Jan. 4.

“The steps taken to carry out the murderous act were carefully thought through, and were intended to spread intimidation or terror among the general public.”

The department said it was also looking into whether or not Nathan C., who was born in 1997 in Lilas, a northeastern suburb of Paris, had any accomplices. Religious texts, including a copy of the Koran, were found among his belongings.

The attacker had been hospitalized a few months earlier and was undergoing psychiatric treatment; he also had drug problems, prosecutors said.

Paris has been the site of major attacks by Islamic extremists in recent years. Coordinated bombings and shootings in November 2015 at the Bataclan theater and other sites around Paris killed 130 people—the deadliest attacks in France since World War II.

By Simon Carraud