Egyptian behind Louvre terror attack worked in Sharjah

Abdallah El-Hamahmy, 28, was a sales manager in Sharjah and his brother Ahmed, who works at the Ministry of Health in Dubai, was questioned by security officials for several hours, their father Reda El-Hamahmy said on Saturday.
French soldiers on patrol at the Louvre museum in Paris on Saturday, as the museum reopened to the public. Kamil Zihnioglu / AP Photo
French soldiers on patrol at the Louvre museum in Paris on Saturday, as the museum reopened to the public. Kamil Zihnioglu / AP Photo

ABU DHABI // The Egyptian man behind the machete attack on a soldier at the Louvre in Paris worked in Sharjah and flew to France from Dubai last month.

The UAE has denounced the actions of Abdallah El Hamahmy, 28, a sales manager, who attacked guards at the museum.

“The UAE, while strongly condemning this hideous crime, affirms its full solidarity with the friendly French Republic and its support for whatever measures France may take to preserve the security and safety of its citizens and residents,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said on Friday night.

“We confirm our religious values and our human situation, which absolutely reject extremism, terrorism and crimes against innocent people.”

El Hamahmy’s brother Ahmed, who works at the Ministry of Health in Dubai, was questioned by security officials for several hours, their father Reda El Hamahmy said yesterday.

The father, a retired police general, told of his disbelief at the attack and said his son, who is married with a seven-month-old child, showed no signs of radicalisation.

On Friday, he attacked soldiers guarding the museum, which has reopened to the public, but was shot five times and wounded. Hundreds of tourists were held in secure areas of the museum until the situation was under control.

“He went on a company trip and when it was over, visited the museum. He was supposed to leave on Saturday,” the father said.

“The French government’s account is not logical. He was 1.65 metres tall and attacked four guards? And in the end they found nothing in his bags.

“He is a simple guy. We all love him. Our household is a moderate household and mind our own business.”

The father said he believed the wounded suspect to be his son but this had not yet been confirmed.

“National Security came yesterday and asked for information about him, and I gave them whatever I had,” Mr El Hamahmy said. “All I want is to know the truth and find out whether he is dead or alive.

“This is all a scenario made up by the French government to justify the soldiers opening fire. He is a very normal young man.”

The attacker is believed to have entered France legally on a flight from Dubai on January 26.

French president Francois Hollande said “there is little doubt as to the terrorist nature of this act”.

Investigators in Paris said El Hamahmy was armed with two machetes and lunged at four patrolling French soldiers while shouting “Allahu Akbar”.

One of the troops was slightly injured after being struck on the head, while a second soldier opened fire five times.

“The attacker fell to the ground seriously wounded,” Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.

El Hamahmy’s condition stabilised overnight in a Parisian hospital, a source said.

Investigators in Paris are examining his Twitter account where he posted about a dozen messages minutes before the attack.

“In the name of Allah, for our brothers in Syria and fighters across the world,” he said linking to a post he wrote on his Facebook page.

“No negotiations, no compromise, steadfastness and no retreat.”

His Facebook page and Twitter account have since been suspended.

In another post on Twitter, he cited a Quranic verse that promises heaven to those who are killed fighting for the sake of God.

He also insulted US president Donald Trump the same day, calling him “Donald Duck”.

He had announced his trip to France in a Twitter message on January 26: “Travelling to Paris, France from DXB.”

A friend of El Hamahmy said he believed the Twitter account to be that of the suspect, who he insisted had not been an extremist.

“I knew him since he graduated,” he said of El Hamahmy, who travelled to the UAE after obtaining a law degree from Egypt’s Mansoura University. “It’s as though it’s a different person. As though it was hacked.”

The attack is the latest in a string of terror incidents in Paris in the past two years, from the Charlie Hebdo rampage in January 2015, which killed 17 people, to the ISIL attack 10 months later in which 130 died.

The Bastille Day carnage in Nice last July, where a Tunisian extremist rammed a lorry through crowds, killed 86.

newsdesk@thenational.ae

* Agence France-Press and AP

Published: February 4, 2017 04:00 AM

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