Muslim Convert Goes on Stabbing Rampage in Paris Police HQ
“Do we have to dread that other profiles of this type are passing under the radar?”
In what was thought to be one of the safest and most secure areas in France, Islamic extremism managed to extend its deadly tentacles on October 4.
Mikael Harpon, 45, a computer information employee and convert to Islam, went on a deadly stabbing rampage at his place of work, Paris police headquarters, knifing three police officers to death as well as a civilian employee.
“It was a deed without precedent in the history of Islamic terrorism,” wrote one observer in the French newspaper Le Figaro.
Harpon had worked for 16 years, since 2003, at the Intelligence Directorate of police headquarters where he was described as a “dedicated and efficient employee” and as a “model employee without history,” according to a union secretary. He had converted to Islam about a dozen years before the attack. But it was only during the previous four years he showed signs of radicalization.
These signs included “approval of certain exactions committed in the name of this religion,” changing his attire to Islamic clothing and refusing to shake hands anymore with women.”
But it was his praising of the murderous Islamic terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo publication in 2015 by Islamic terrorists that attracted the attention of his work colleagues. He said of the 12 people who died in that attack: “They deserved it.”
This seems to contradict the French minister of the interior’s assertion after the attack that Harpon never “presented any behavioral difficulty” nor “gave the least sign for alert.”
His work colleagues reported his words about Charlie Hebdo but nothing was done. It was said the matter was “handled internally.” And Harpon’s work colleagues said no other such radicalization signs ever arose again. Thus, Harpon’s personnel file “showed no signs of radicalization.”
It was stated that Harpon, who was born on the Caribbean island of Martinique and was deaf (he wore a hearing aid), adhered to “a radical vision of Islam” and had contacts with “certain individuals of the Salafist movement.” French intelligence failed to notice this. It also didn’t notice that Harpon had married a Muslim woman from Madagascar, a practicing Muslim and also deaf, which should have prompted an automatic security background check.
It was said the intelligence services had “weaknesses” in detecting Harpon’s radicalization, which is somewhat inexcusable, since the intelligence service Harpon worked for is charged with detecting “drifts towards radicalization.” Which is notable since some Islamic extremists try to hide their radicalism while Harpon “acted openly,” according to Le Figaro.
All of this is causes concern considering that, in his intelligence work as an “information technology specialist,” Harpon had access to “a quantity of secrets” such as all undercover operations, and the agents’ names involved in these operations, against Islamic extremism across the capital. In fact, after the attack police found USB flash drives at his desk, one with “personal information of agents” and another with “violent Islamist propaganda.” Police are now investigating whether he revealed any identities to anyone.
On the day of the attack, Harpon arrived at work at 8:58 a.m. as he usually did. He exchanged that morning before the attack 33 messages, described as being “of a religious character,” with his wife. The last one ended “Allah Akbar, follow our beloved Prophet and study the Coran.”
At lunch time, he bought two knives, one a ceramic knife with a 20 cm. blade and the other an oyster knife. And after returning to work from lunch, Harpon began his killing spree. It lasted seven minutes.
First, he went into one office where three male colleagues were getting ready for lunch and killed them. He tried to get into another office but it was closed.
Harpon next went down some stairs where he met the two women, killing one and wounding the other.
The terrorist then went out into a courtyard where a rookie police officer on guard duty confronted him. The officer had been warned about Harpon by a woman, “sobbing and terrified,” coming from the building. The rookie officer, fresh from the academy and on the job only eight days, ordered Harpon three times to drop the knife, but Harpon refused. The officer shot him once with an assault rifle in the torso but Harpon kept coming, so the officer shot him in the head, after which Harpon collapsed. One observer in Le Figaro reported Harpon “wished to die.”
The night before the attack neighbors had heard Harpon yell "Allahu Akbar" between 3 and 4 in the morning. One neighbor said the yells definitely came from his apartment. His wife said her husband suffered a “demence” (attack of madness) that night and was hearing voices and seeing visions. On the morning of his attack, Harpon was seen going to pray at a mosque with two others, dressed in a jellaba.
Whatever Harpon’s mental state, the upshot is that four more beautiful lives have been lost to Islamic extremism in France, adding additional names to the more than three hundred others Islamic terrorists have killed since 2015 in that country. As one observer notes, the list of people killed “a l’arm blanche” (with knives) in France is already very long. And a writer in Le Figaro describe police and military personnel as a “favored target” for Islamic terrorists. Before Harpon’s attack, seven had been killed in France since 2012.
This attack follows on the heels of the stabbing to death of a nineteen-year-old French youth, Timothy Bonnet, by a Muslim Afghan asylum seeker in Lyon in another brutal attack last August, ending another beautiful young life.
Since the Harpon attack, two policemen have been dismissed from service for radicalization. Police have also revealed they have “turned down several candidates for recruitment” because they presented “radical profiles.” About 30 police officers in total are reported to be under surveillance for radicalization among the almost 150,000 officers in France, according to an author on a parliamentary report on radicalization in the public service.
Ironically, the attack took place the day after the police held a protest called the “march of anger protesting “working conditions, pension reform, the high number of police suicides and pension reform.”
But a writer in Le Figaro raises the important question of how was it possible that Harpon was in such a sensitive post.
“Do we have to dread that other profiles of this type are passing under the radar?” he asks.
The answer, unfortunately, is yes. French leadership have told the people, such as the French government minister who told a crowd after the Nice attack and was roundly booed, that they will have to get used to terror attacks. Which means in the public service as well. There is no stopping Islamic extremist infiltration, which the government knows full well.
But after the Harpon attack French people are probably left with a question of their own:
“If Islamic extremists can kill, even in Paris police headquarters, one of the most secure and safest areas in the city with numerous armed policemen around, then where can one be safe?"
Not an easy question to answer.