As reported here last Friday, a “lone wolf” attacker stabbed a French policewoman to death at police headquarters in the town of Rambouillet. As is often the case, what might appear to an unsophisticated observer to be a jihad attack is in fact something entirely different: mental illness. An immigrant youth endures so much racial and religious discrimination that the stress pushes him over the edge, inducing him to commit an isolated act of violence, using religious sentiments as a pretext.
Rambouillet attack: A radicalized assailant with “personality disorders”
April 25, 2021
[Photo caption: Attack committed at Rambouillet 22 April 2021]
The profile of the killer of the fatal attack committed Friday at Rambouillet is becoming clearer little by little.
The fatal attack Friday against an officer at the Rambouillet police headquarters, near Paris, was committed by a 36-year-old Tunisian, whose radicalization “seems hardly contestable” and who presents “certain personality troubles”, indicated the anti-terrorist prosecutor Sunday.
“Several elements substantiate the tracking of the path of this resident of Rambouillet, radicalized within a few months,” announced National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor Jean-Francois Richard to the press.
A “rapid search” of the telephone of the attacker, Jamel Gorchene, revealed “that he had, immediately prior to proceeding to the act, consulted videos of religious chants glorifying martyrdom and jihad,” he stated.
The prosecutor also referred to his posts on Facebook going back to last fall which revealed “an adherence to an ideology legitimizing violence against those who have offended the Prophet.”
“A Koran” and “a prayer rug” seized
Thus, “On 24 October 2020, a few days after the murder of Samuel Paty (by an Islamist in the department of Yvelines), the perpetrator joined a campaign of support for the Prophet in the face of offenses allegedly committed against him,” stressed Mr. Ricard.
“A Koran” and “a prayer rug” were seized in his scooter and his basket. And, shortly before the incident, a video surveillance camera filmed the assailant heading to a “provisional prayer room”, without the images confirming that he directly entered it. He was seen re-entering the city center a little more than an hour later.
“If the radicalization of the attacker seems hardly contestable, the presence of certain personality disorders can also be observed,” Mr. Ricard revealed. In police custody, the Jamel Gorchene’s father evoked his son’s “rigorous practice of Islam” and “behavioral disorders” observed at home “at the beginning of the year”.
He had undergone two psychiatric consultations at the Rambouillet hospital in February. However, “his condition did not require either hospitalization or treatment,” Mr. Ricard reported.
Tunisia, whose collaboration is being solicited by France in this case, has “energetically” condemned the attack in a statement from its embassy. It denounces a “barbaric act occurring in the middle of the month of Ramadan, the holy month which invokes, rather, the values of tolerance and brotherhood between individuals.”
“We hadn’t detected signs of radicalization”
At 14:25 on Friday, Jamel Gorchene, “wearing headphones”, stabbed Stephanie M., a 49-year-old administrative officer who had no weapon or uniform, in the abdomen and throat, when she was in the security area of the police station. According to witnesses, the assailant cried “Allahu Akhbar”.
In response, a police brigadier fired two shots at the attacker, who refused “to drop the knife”, “a blade of 22 centimeters”. Falling to the floor, he threw the knife in the direction of the police officers, according to the prosecutor.
A fifth person, a cousin of Jamel Gorchene, was placed in custody Sunday. His father who lived with him, a couple who housed him (according to records), and another cousin have already been in custody since Friday and Saturday.
The assailant, a delivery driver, was unknown to the intelligence and justice services. But his modus operandi corresponds to recurring appeals from the group Islamic State to attack police.
He “had never been the bearer of threats; we detected no signs of radicalization,” stated the national coordinator of intelligence, Laurent Nuñez, on Saturday, adding: “It becomes very complicated… to detect this type of profile” common to eight attacks in France since the killing at the police prefecture of Paris in October of 2019.
A bill to strengthen the fight against terrorism
Originally from Msaken, on the east coast of Tunisia, Jamel Gorchene had arrived illegally in France in 2009 and was regularized ten years later. He had obtained a residency permit in December valid for one year.
Back in Tunisia between February 25 and March 13, he seemed “depressed”, a male and a female cousin told Agence France Presse at Msaken. The Rambouillet attack is the 17th Islamic terrorist act against the police committed in France since 2014, Mr. Ricard stated.
Nine police or military officers have been killed, and almost twenty wounded in these attacks, often committed with a simple knife.
On Saturday Prime Minster Jean Castex met with the ministers of Interior, Justice, and the Army and concerned services at Matignon. On Wednesday, the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, will present to the Council of Ministers a bill that has been in preparation for several weeks to strengthen the fight against terrorism.
An homage will be rendered to Stephanie M. on Monday at 5:30pm in front of the Hotel de Ville Rambouillet. At that same hour, the Unite-SGP-Police and FSMI-FO (Federation of Unions of Ministry of Interior) unions have called for police to gather symbolically in front of their building.