France teacher attack: Samuel Paty's killer had 'contact' with jihadist in Syria

WION Web Team
Paris, France Published: Oct 22, 2020, 06:45 PM(IST)

A French police officer stands next to a portrait of French teacher Samuel Paty on display on the facade of the Opera Comedie in Montpellier on October 21, 2020, during a national homage to the teacher who was beheaded for showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed in his civics class Photograph:( AFP )

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Anzorov's suspected contact had been located through an IP address traced back to Idlib, a jihadist holdout in northwestern Syria

The killer of French history teacher Samuel Paty, who murdered for showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in class, has contact with a Russian-speaking jihadist in Syria.

Seven people have been charged with being complicit in a "terrorist murder" after 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov beheaded Paty on the outskirts of Paris on Friday, including two teenagers who helped him identify the teacher.

France paid homage to Paty on Wednesday, with President Emmanuel Macron saying that the history and geography teacher had been slain by "cowards" for representing the secular, democratic values of the French Republic.

Also read: France to dissolve pro-Hamas Muslim group; Macron vows action against Islamist extremism

"Islamists want to take our future," Macron said. "They will never have it."

Traced to Idlib

Le Parisien newspaper reported on Thursday that Anzorov's suspected contact had been located through an IP address traced back to Idlib, a jihadist holdout in northwestern Syria.

Also read: French teacher's murderer reportedly paid students outside school to identify Paty

The teenagers who pointed out Paty to his killer in return for 300-350 euros ($356-$414) were charged late Wednesday over the killing.  

The parent of one of Paty's students, who started the social media campaign against the teacher even though his daughter was not in class when the cartoons were shown, was also charged.

Also charged was a known Islamist radical who helped the father stir up outrage against Paty.

The other three facing prosecutions are friends of Anzorov, one of who allegedly drove him to the scene of the crime while another accompanied him to purchase a weapon.

Two of them also face charges of being complicit in terrorist murder while the third was charged with a lesser offence, the anti-terrorist prosecutor's office said.

'Murdered for his teachings' 

Paty, 47, became the target of an online hate campaign over his choice of lesson material -- the same images which unleashed a bloody assault by Islamist gunmen on the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.

Police have carried out dozens of raids since the crime, while the government has ordered the six-month closure of a mosque outside Paris and dissolved the Sheikh Yassin Collective, a group they said supported Hamas.

The French government has also earmarked for dissolution more than 50 other organisations it accuses of having links to radical Islam.

Paty's beheading was the second knife attack in the name of avenging the Prophet Mohammed since a trial of alleged accomplices in the Charlie Hebdo attack started last month.

The killing has prompted an outpouring of emotion in France, with tens of thousands taking part in rallies countrywide in defence of free speech and the right to mock religion.

"We will not give up cartoons," Macron vowed at Wednesday's ceremony at the Sorbonne University in Paris.

An opinion poll by the Ifop institute on Thursday found that nearly 80 per cent of those questioned said it was appropriate for teachers to use cartoons making fun of religion in the classroom.

UNICEF director-general Audrey Azoulay on Thursday said that "a teacher has been murdered for his teachings".

Azoulay told a virtual education summit that she wanted to "pay tribute to this teacher, and all the other teachers in the world who take risks educating our children and young people".

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