Tragedy in Arras: Terror Strikes a French School as Authorities Thwart Second Attack

A tragic knife attack unfolded this Friday (13) at a secondary school in the city of Arras, northern France, resulting in the death of a teacher and leaving two others seriously injured. The assailant, identified as 20-year-old Mohammed Mogouchkov, a former student, was promptly apprehended by French police.

During the attack, reports from local press indicate that the assailant uttered Islamic chants. The teacher was tragically beheaded, and the school director was among the seriously injured. The incident occurred around 11 am at Liceu Gambetta in Arras.

The French National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office (PNAT) has taken charge of the investigation, categorizing it as a terrorist homicide, attempted terrorist homicide, and terrorist association to prepare attacks. It was revealed that the perpetrator was under surveillance by the secret services due to his ties to Islamic fundamentalism.

In a chilling revelation, another attempted attack was confirmed in the Paris region following the Arras incident. French President Emmanuel Macron announced that police intervention successfully thwarted the second attack, where a man armed with a kitchen knife was apprehended outside a school in the city of Limay, in the Paris metropolitan area.

Mohammed Mogouchkov, the perpetrator in the Arras attack, was already known to intelligence services for his connections to radical Islam. He had been classified as a threat to state security (“S”) and was actively monitored, including wiretaps and physical surveillance. His interest in the 2015 terrorist attacks against the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and his following of journalist Wassim Nasr were documented.

The Mogouchkov family, of Chechen origin, had a history of extremist activities. His older brother, Mosvar Mogouchkov, was detained in 2019 for involvement in an attack project against the Élysée Palace and was sentenced to five years in prison. The younger brother, aged 17, was also detained after the Arras attack.

In 2014, the French government attempted to expel the Mogouchkov family from the country, but faced opposition from organizations and activists, leading to the initiative being halted. Mohammed Mogouchkov’s father was expelled in 2018 but clandestinely returned the following year.

This attack in Arras transpires nearly three years after the beheading of professor Samuel Paty on October 16, 2020, and just six days after the Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel. The surge in anti-Semitic acts in France, following the recent attacks, prompted Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin to describe the increase as “dramatic.”

On Friday night, the French government elevated the country’s anti-terrorism alert level to its highest level, termed “attack urgency.” Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne announced the decision after a meeting of the French Security Council at the Élysée Palace, attended by President Macron and several government officials. France, hosting the second-largest Jewish population globally after Israel and the United States, faces heightened concerns amid these distressing incidents.

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