Mall prayer and DNA lead French police to soldier attack suspect



PARIS // Traces of DNA on an orange juice bottle and a surveillance video of a man praying in a mall led to the arrest yesterday of a man accused of stabbing a French soldier while he was patrolling a crowded area outside of Paris.

The attack came days after a British soldier was killed on a London street in broad daylight, raising fears of potential copycat attacks.

France has been on a heightened security alert since January, when its military battled Islamist extremists in the African nation of Mali.

The stabbing suspect was caught on camera praying in a corner of a shopping mall on Saturday, 10 minutes before the soldier was attacked in the La Defense financial and shopping district, said Francois Molins, a French prosecutor.

The 22-year-old man, identified only by his first name, Alexandre, had bought the juice and the pocketknife used in the attack an hour beforehand, he added.

"The intent to kill is obvious," said Mr Molins. "The suspect doesn't hesitate to stab several times with impressive determination." The man was arrested outside Paris at the house of a friend who has not been implicated.

"The suspect implicitly confessed when he told police, 'I know why you're here'," said Mr Molins.

"The nature of the attack, the fact that it happened three days after the London attack, and a prayer that was said shortly before the attack make us believe that he acted in the name of his religious ideology and that his wish was to attack someone representing the state. "

The suspect, who was unemployed and homeless, was identified through DNA he left on the plastic juice bottle, said Christophe Crepin, a spokesman for the police union, UNSA.

Mr Molins said the man came under scrutiny after a street prayer in 2007, and authorities had his DNA profile on record after a series of petty crimes committed when he was a minor. He converted to radical Islam at around age 18, Mr Molins added. Under French antiterrorism laws, he can be held for 96 hours without charge.

The French soldier is recovering from his injuries and has been released from the hospital.

French security forces have been on heightened alert since the military intervened in Mali this year to regain territory seized by extremists. Yet even before this, French soldiers were considered possible targets at home by local radicals.

Last year, three paratroopers were killed by a man described as a French-born Islamist extremist.

Mohamed Merah went on to attack a Jewish school in southern France, killing a rabbi and three children in March last year, shortly before he was killed during a gun battle with police.

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

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Tickets for the 2019 Asian Cup are available online, via www.asiancup2019.com

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

Company profile

Company name: Suraasa

Started: 2018

Founders: Rishabh Khanna, Ankit Khanna and Sahil Makker

Based: India, UAE and the UK

Industry: EdTech

Initial investment: More than $200,000 in seed funding

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Director: Rob Marshall
Stars: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem
Rating: 2/5

Dr Graham's three goals

Short term

Establish logistics and systems needed to globally deploy vaccines


Intermediate term

Build biomedical workforces in low- and middle-income nations


Long term

A prototype pathogen approach for pandemic preparedness  

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Telr
Based: Dubai, UAE
Launch year: 2014
Number of employees: 65
Sector: FinTech and payments
Funding: nearly $30 million so far

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Top speed: 332kph
Fuel consumption: 12.2L/100km
On sale: Year end
Price: From Dh1,430,000 (coupe); From Dh1,566,000 (Spider)

Hili 2: Unesco World Heritage site

The site is part of the Hili archaeological park in Al Ain. Excavations there have proved the existence of the earliest known agricultural communities in modern-day UAE. Some date to the Bronze Age but Hili 2 is an Iron Age site. The Iron Age witnessed the development of the falaj, a network of channels that funnelled water from natural springs in the area. Wells allowed settlements to be established, but falaj meant they could grow and thrive. Unesco, the UN's cultural body, awarded Al Ain's sites - including Hili 2 - world heritage status in 2011. Now the most recent dig at the site has revealed even more about the skilled people that lived and worked there.

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