A man who injured two people in a meat cleaver attack in Paris last week admitted he lied to police when he said he was 18 and had entered the country as a minor, the lead prosecutor in the case said Tuesday.
The assailant in what the French government has called an act of “Islamist terrorism” had identified himself as Hassan A., an 18-year-old born in the Pakistani town of Mandi Bahauddin.
He entered France in 2018 under the false identity that gave him access to social security aid for minors, national anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard told a news conference.
After Friday’s attack, investigators became suspicious about his claims when they found a photo of an identity document on his phone that appeared to suggest he was actually called Zaheer Hassan Mehmood, aged 25.
“He eventually admitted that this was his true identity and that he was 25 years old,” Ricard said.
It was under that identity that he appeared in a video filmed before the Friday attack, in which he said he was avenging the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed by the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
The magazine was the scene of a massacre by Islamist gunmen in January 2015, and the trial of 14 alleged accomplices in that attack is currently underway in Paris.
The attacker seriously injured two employees of a TV production agency, whose offices are on the same block that used to house Charlie Hebdo. They are now in stable condition, officials said.
He told investigators he thought he was targeting employees of Charlie Hebdo, but did not realise they had since moved to a new location that is kept secret because of security risks.
Ricard said the attacker had never attracted the attention of any government intelligence agency before Friday’s assault.