Enlarge image

Police officers secure traces in front of the Gambetta school in Arras after the knife attack.

Photo: Ludovic Marin / EPA

The 20-year-old, who killed a teacher in Arras in northern France last Friday, is said to have pledged allegiance to the terrorist militia Islamic State. In an audio and video message, Mohammed M. had explicitly declared his allegiance to the jihadist militia "Islamic State" ("IS") before the attack, said anti-terror prosecutor Jean-François Ricard in Paris on Tuesday.

Four days after the fatal knife attack, the French public prosecutor's office has requested an investigation against the perpetrator and his 16-year-old brother. The public prosecutor's office accuses the brother of having advised the perpetrator for the operation.

A 15-year-old cousin of the perpetrator is also in the sights of the judiciary. He is said to have known about the project without trying to prevent it. The public prosecutor's office is investigating, among other things, murder with a terrorist background and the formation of a terrorist group.

On Friday, the former student of the high school in Arras had killed the French teacher Dominique Bernard in front of the entrance of the school with several knife stabs in the shoulder and neck. He also injured three other school employees. According to the public prosecutor's office, they are now out of danger.

On Monday, schools in France held a minute's silence to commemorate the two teachers who have now been murdered by Islamist-motivated attackers. Three years ago, Samuel Paty, a teacher, was also killed by a jihadist in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte also want to attend the funeral service for Dominique Bernard planned for Thursday.

Perpetrator is also said to have mentioned Middle East conflict

Mohammed M. came to France with his family from the Russian Republic of Ingushetia at the age of six. The French authorities had rejected several asylum applications from the family and deported the father, who was considered radicalized. Mohammed M. could not be deported because he was younger than 13 when he came to France.

Since Friday, more than a hundred witnesses have been questioned, 13 people have been temporarily in police custody, the prosecutor's office said. Among them is the attacker's sister, who was shocked by her brother's development. She had observed how he became more and more radical and violent, said her lawyer Mikaël Benillouche.

According to the public prosecutor's office, the investigations so far give a clearer picture of the perpetrator's motivation. Mohammed M. had sworn his allegiance to the Islamic State in a long audio message. Before the attack, he also recorded a short video in which he insulted the "values of the French" and made dire threats.

Minister of the Interior wants to change immigration law

The perpetrator had only "marginally alluded" to the situation in the Middle East, according to investigators. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin had earlier said that there was a connection between the attack at the high school in Arras in northern France and the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Darmanin wants to change this provision in the Immigration Act. This project is now to be brought forward and debated in the National Assembly as early as December. Votes in both chambers of parliament are planned by the end of the year, said Franck Riester, the minister responsible for parliament.

Mohammed M. had been registered as a danger and had been observed by the secret service. However, there were no indications of an imminent act, intelligence circles said. Since Friday, the highest terror alert level has been in force in France. Jewish institutions and schools are under increased surveillance. Up to 7000,<> soldiers of the anti-terrorist unit are deployed across the country.