The French government defended its anti-terrorism measures over the weekend after it turned out that the perpetrator of a deadly knife attack in Paris was on a state security watchlist.
Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said the man, a naturalized French citizen who was born in Chechnya in 1997, had been on the watchlist since 2016.
It was the second deadly attack in two months by a person flagged on the watchlist, and the conservative opposition renewed calls for people on the list to be detained or deported.
Griveaux said security forces had foiled 22 attacks over the past 15 months.
“When we live through a tragedy like yesterday, it is visible,” Griveaux told broadcasters LCI and RTL. “What’s unfortunate is that our successes, by definition, are invisible.”
The attack was claimed by Islamic State. French authorities have not confirmed any link with the organization but are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.
A video emerged Sunday online purporting to show the attacker swearing allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In the video, the speaker, wearing a mask that covers most of his face, calls on “my brothers the mujahedeen” in French with scattered Arabic phrases.
In terms typical of Islamic State’s propaganda, he calls on Muslims in Europe to try to move to the group’s now much-reduced territory, or, failing that, to commit attacks at home.
The video, which appeared to have been published by Islamic State’s news agency, Amaq, could not be verified.
The attack near the Paris Opera Saturday night killed a 29-year-old man. Four other people were injured, two of them seriously.
The attacker was shot dead by police, who arrived on the scene within minutes.
Both seriously injured people were out of danger by midday Sunday, a source close to the investigation said.
Click here to read more.