Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Suspect Held in Stabbing of Soldier near Paris ; 21-Year-Old, Seen Praying before Attack, Is Said to Be Recent Islam Convert

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Suspect Held in Stabbing of Soldier near Paris ; 21-Year-Old, Seen Praying before Attack, Is Said to Be Recent Islam Convert

Article excerpt

The French suspect, 21, was known to investigators, the interior minister said, but he urged caution and said, "I cannot talk about radical Islam."

The French police on Wednesday arrested a 21-year-old man described as a recent convert to Islam who they said had confessed to stabbing a French soldier Saturday in a Paris suburb.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement that the man was arrested in the Yvelines region, just west of Paris. The soldier, Pvt. Cedric Cordiez, 23, was stabbed in the neck with a short-bladed knife in La Defense, a business-shopping district west of Paris. He was treated at a military hospital and released on Monday.

Officials initially said the stabbing seemed to echo an attack last week on an off-duty British soldier, who was hacked to death on a London street by two men the British authorities have identified as radicalized British Muslims. On Wednesday, the Paris public prosecutor, Francois Molins, said investigators believed that the suspect had indeed "acted in the name of his religious ideology," given the character and timing of the attack as well as a "prayer" he said shortly before it.

The man, whom Mr. Molins identified only by his given name, Alexandre, confessed to the police officers who arrested him, Mr. Molins said. He is believed to have targeted Private Cordiez, one of a small group of soldiers on an anti-terrorism patrol, as a "representative of the state," apparently intending to kill him, Mr. Molins said.

Alexandre was known to investigators before the stabbing, Mr. Valls said. He urged caution and said, "I cannot talk about radical Islam." Investigators wanted to know more about the suspect's motivation, background and family environment, Mr. Valls said.

The police said he was identified by video footage and by traces of his DNA that were found on items left at the scene in a plastic bag, including a knife and a bottle. …

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