Europe 1 with AFP 7:11 p.m., February 5, 2024

The assailant of the Arras attack (Pas-de-Calais) claimed, during his interrogations in November and January, to have intentionally targeted the literature professor Dominique Bernard, on October 13, 2023, to attack the symbol of “love” of France.

“Dominique Bernard was a French teacher, it is one of the subjects where we transmit passion, love, attachment to the system in general of the Republic, democracy, human rights,” said Mohammed Mogouchkov explained to the investigating judge on November 10, according to information of which AFP was aware.

After the incident, witnesses said that the young man, now aged 21, seemed to be looking for the principal of the establishment or "the history teacher", without mentioning a literature teacher.

But Mohammed Mogouchkov claims it: he attacked his ex-professor, in his former establishment, for the values ​​he embodied, but without having "any particular problem with him". Was Dominique Bernard his only target? “That was the main task,” “intentional,” he agrees, referring to a plan drawn up “one to three weeks in advance.”

“It was planned”

“The means used, the day chosen (Friday), the location and the target were intentional, it was planned”: he carried out scouting “previous Fridays”, bought “two folding knives” — one the day before , the other seven days before — and decides to act on a Friday, the day “with the greatest symbolism of Islam”.


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On the other hand, the “moments” which followed the “first stab” at Dominique Bernard “were improvised”. Reheard on January 12, the suspect then specified that he "refused" to kill the three people he also injured, "as a pity to see them die or be killed in a state of disbelief". He claims to have had "rather the desire" to push them to believe, "by talking to them".

Strange discussions with his brother

“I have never targeted a woman,” he also insisted. Asked by AFP, his lawyer, Me Verlaine Etam Sone, did not wish to comment. In this case, his younger brother and his cousin, also indicted, were questioned in November and December respectively.

Investigators particularly suspect his brother, 16, of complicity in assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise. At issue: a discussion where he answers Mohammed's questions about handling knives.

With Mohammed, "we could talk about everything, about vegetable gardens" and, also, about beheading, it was "a discussion like any other", the brother described to the investigating judge in December. He explains that he has “a passion” for weapons and violent videos of all kinds.

“Come and have some tea”

This discussion about weapons does not alarm him, but Mohammed's "smiling" tone the day before the attack does. “Come and have some tea one last time,” the assailant told him. "I asked him: 'What does that mean?' and he told me: 'no, nothing,'" the brother remembers.

After this exchange, he says he contacted his cousin, 15 years old, thinking that Mohammed Mogouchkov was preparing a "violent action" or a "departure for jihad" but not an attack, he assures.

Contacted, the brother's lawyer, Me Ambroise Vienet-Legué, did not wish to comment. The morning of the events, the cousin and the brother meet again. “We were mainly thinking about who we should tell,” he explained to the investigating judge in December. “The first person who came to mind was my father,” the only one “capable of calling Mohammed to order.”

The attacker's entourage concerns investigators

File S for Islamist radicalization, the father was expelled from France in 2018 to Russia, where he stayed for a year. At the end of October, he declared to AFP from Armenia that he condemned his son's action.

Since the start of the investigations, the attacker's entourage has concerned investigators, who found several weapons in the cellar of the family home. The eldest of the Mogouchkovs, Movsar, is currently incarcerated for not having denounced a planned attack near the Elysée. But he is not being prosecuted at this stage for that of Arras.

The mother considers herself a collateral victim of the attack, in particular because her youngest daughter was placed in a home, and has asked to become a civil party. The appeal decision will be rendered on Wednesday. For his part, Mohammed Mogouchkov repeated that he had acted alone: ​​"no one was aware of this project or even of this desire."