France opens terrorism probe into knife-wielding man at Eiffel Tower
French prosecutors launched a terrorism investigation after a man wielding a knife and shouting the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), tried to force his way in to the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Saturday night, a judicial source said.
The incident at the world-famous tourist landmark was designated a terrorism case because of the suspect’s statements to police, in which he said he wanted to attack a soldier, and his apparent radicalisation, the source said.
No one was injured in the incident that occurred around 11.30 p.m. local time on Aug. 5 shortly before closing time, Eiffel Tower operator SETE said in a statement on Aug. 6.
The man, brandishing a knife, tried to force his way through a security check before being stopped, it said. Police evacuated the tower to carry out a check of the entire site.
A source close to the investigation said the suspect, a French national born in Mauritania in 1998, had been in a psychiatric hospital for several months and was granted permission to leave care from Aug. 4 to Aug. 6.
During police questioning, the man said he had wanted to carry out an attack against a soldier and had been in contact with a member of Islamic State who had encouraged him to act, the source said.
The suspect was convicted last December for defending acts of terrorism and for making death threats, the source said. He was given a four-month suspended sentence.