French police confirmed Sunday that the individual who went on a deadly stabbing spree in Paris this weekend was a Chechen immigrant who was already on a radicalism watchlist. The Interior Ministry had not publicly released the assailant’s name as of the time of this writing, but authorities told the Associated Press that he was part of a nationwide database that connected him to Islamic extremists. Born in 1997, the attacker was said by witnesses to have yelled “Allahu akbar” repeatedly while stabbing five people on Saturday night. Four people were wounded and one 29-year-old man was killed in the attack before police shot the assailant.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bloodbath.
The AP spoke to witnesses to the melee who said it was a whirlwind of confusion. “I was working in the restaurant and suddenly I heard a woman screaming…he came and attacked her,” a witness named Jonathan told the press. “That’s when the panic started, everyone started screaming and trying to reach our restaurant. The attacker just kept walking around with his knife in his bloodied hands.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has begun initiatives to reform the extremism that is blooming in Muslim communities, tweeted, “France has once again paid in blood, but will not give an inch to the enemies of freedom.”
This is, of course, not the first time in recent years that Macron’s country has been attacked by Islamic radicals. According to the BBC, more than 230 people have been killed by jihadists inspired by the Islamic State over the past three years. The deadliest of these attacks unfolded in November 2015, when terrorists launched simultaneous assaults on three separate venues in Paris, murdering a total of 130 people. The worst of these attacks occurred at the Bataclan concert arena, where gunmen opened fire at an Eagles of Death Metal show.
Marcon has said that fighting Islamism will be his top national security priority, but some on his right flank fear that he’s not willing to go as far as he needs to in order to restore peace and civility to France.
As for ISIS, they are on their last legs as a battlefield presence, their dreams of a global caliphate having been destroyed by the U.S. and its allies. That said, they remain a potent force when it comes to online propaganda, and they still have plenty of fighters who have returned home to France and other European nations. Not all of these fighters have been successfully “de-radicalized,” if indeed this is even something the West can accomplish. We are winning the war against terrorism, to be sure, but as long as young Muslims are drawn to this sick ideology, isolated attacks will continue to occur.