Arrested on Saturday (December 2nd) after stabbing to death a German-Filipino tourist in Paris and attacking two other people armed with a hammer, Armand Rajabpour-Miyandoab, a young French-Iranian, was known to the justice system for his radical Islam and psychiatric disorders.
The attacker "had been involved in the jihadist network for a while," said Wassim Nasr, a journalist with France 24 who specializes in jihadist movements. "He was in contact with the killer in Magnanville (in June 2016, editor's note), the killer in Saint-Etienne du Rouvray and with jihadists in Syria. He tried, himself, to go to Syria, "he says to the antenna of France 24 (video to see below).
Born in France to Iranian refugee parents, living in Essonne (in the south of Paris), the 26-year-old man had already been arrested by the domestic intelligence (DGSI) in 2016 for a planned attack in La Défense, a business district west of Paris.
As a biology student, he had formed plans to join the Islamic State terrorist group in the Iraqi-Syrian zone and had contacts with "three repeat offenders", according to the Paris court that tried him in 2018. Before, "he had never been talked about". No criminal record.
In this case, Armand Rajabpour-Miyandoab was sentenced to five years in prison, one of which was suspended, and was released in 2020 after four years in detention, sources close to the case said. Known for psychiatric disorders and radical Islam, he had undergone psychiatric medical treatment throughout his detention and after his release, where he was placed under judicial supervision and under Micas, an administrative system with measures to prevent acts of terrorism.
"The first few months were encouraging," he appeared to have "detached himself from religion" after his release, according to a security source.
Shortly after 21 p.m. on Saturday, near the Bir Hakeim bridge over the Seine, he shouted "Allah akbar" repeatedly, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
'A promoter of jihadist ideology' in 2015
Armand Rajabpour-Miyandoab became "interested" in Islam in 2014 and then converted after meeting a jihadist, Maximilien Thibaut, in 2015 through a graffiti website, according to the Paris court.
"His need for bearings" had accelerated radicalisation, a psychologist who had followed him said during the 2017 investigation, "the Islamic State giving him directive criteria for his way of life". No more music, no more friends... until he became "a promoter of jihadist ideology" in 2015.
Arrested in 2016, he nevertheless affirmed: "I have radicalized and self-deradicalized." "I'm no longer a Muslim, but I'm still interested in what's going on there," he said. For the court, this deradicalization process appears "fragile": as recently as June 2016, the young man was researching online "phosphorus bombs" or Adel Kermiche, the murderer of Father Hamel in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (Seine-Maritime).
Confronted with his contradictions, he admitted, in 2016, that he "still had dark thoughts" – "the Nice attack did not displease (him)" – and felt that he "needed a follow-up". At the trial in 2018, his mother said he was "manipulated" and confided that she had had a very difficult time converting to Islam. Her older sister speaks of her "sickly shyness".
Concealment? In 2020, according to the magazine L'Obs, he had gone to the police station after the murder of Professor Samuel Paty in October 2020 in the Yvelines, to report that he had exchanged with the assailant Abdoullakh Anzorov on social networks two weeks earlier. He will not be prosecuted at the end of his police custody, during which he claimed to have become "radical or non-radical anti-Islamists" after his time in prison.
"He came out of detention with a kind of hatred towards Islam because of what he has experienced since his detention," his mother said at the time, according to L'Obs. "He feels above all 100% French, he came out with a love for France."
However, this man with a "very impressionable" and "very unstable" personality had been raising concerns again since spring-summer 2022, according to the security source.
'Significant digital activity'
"It's a profile that resembles that of the killer in Vienna" in November 2020, says Wassim Nasr, who recalls: "Someone who has never been in Syria, who has been imprisoned for terrorism, and who, after following a path of 'deradicalization', has shown his credentials and says that he is no longer interested in religion. This ended up attacking a synagogue in Vienna, passers-by, and causing deaths." "It's a profile that is becoming habitual of people who were involved at one time, incarcerated, never in the area, but who find this activism again to the point of taking action and committing murders," says Wassim Nasr.
After his arrest on Saturday night, he told police "that he resented what was happening in Gaza, that France would be complicit in what Israel was doing. He reportedly said he was fed up with seeing Muslims dying, both in Afghanistan and in Palestine," the interior minister said.
"Recent events may have made it decompensate," the security source said. Investigators will also look into his medical follow-up. "Was he being medically monitored as he should have been and as he was for a while? This is a subject that will arise," in the investigation, according to the security source.
According to a source close to the intelligence, 20% of the approximately 5,000 people monitored for radicalization in France suffer from psychiatric disorders.
Armand Rajabpour-Miyandoab also had a "significant digital activity". Very shortly before his attack, a video claiming responsibility for his act was posted on social networks in which a man referred to "current events, the government or the murder of innocent Muslims", the security source said.
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