A Pakistani man accused of wounding two people with a meat cleaver in front of the former offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris on September 25 is being formally investigated by the anti-terrorism prosecutor.
The prosecutor had previously said the suspect would be brought before investigating judges but that has been amended to a formal investigation by the anti-terrorism prosecutor on suspicion of attempted murder related to a terrorist plan.
Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard told a news conference on September 29 that the suspect in what the French government has called an act of "Islamist terrorism" carried three bottles of a flammable paint thinner with which he wanted to set fire to the former offices of the satirical newspaper unaware that the weekly had moved.
Ricard said the suspect planned to force his way into the magazine's offices but when he came across a man and a woman smoking beside a mural to the victims of the 2015 attack on the publication in which 12 people were killed, he thought they were staff at Charlie Hebdo and attacked them with the meat cleaver.
Both victims suffered serious injuries, Ricard said.
Ricard said the man, who had identified himself as Hassan A., an 18-year-old born in the Pakistani town of Mandi Bahauddin, operated under a false identity and that a photo of his passport on his phone showed that he was 25 years old.
The assailant did not claim an affiliation with a specific extremist group, Ricard said.
The suspect told investigators that he had watched videos from Pakistan about the cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed published by Charlie Hebdo in 2006 and again this year, Ricard said.
He said the attacker broadcast a video on social media on the morning of the attack. Speaking in Urdu, he announced that he was going to “rebel” against the new publication of the caricatures.
Ricard said the suspect arrived in France two years ago, presenting himself as an unaccompanied minor. He was not on the police radar for Islamic radicalization and not known to French intelligence services.
The 2015 attack was carried out by attackers who raided Charlie Hebdo's office in revenge for the publication of the cartoons.
The magazine republished them this month to mark the trial of suspects accused of aiding two gunmen in the attack.
After the attack, Charlie Hebdo moved its headquarters to an undisclosed location.