The 2016 Magnanville Stabbing

Police officers at the crime scene a day after the stabbing in Magnanville.
Police officers at the crime scene a day after the stabbing in Magnanville.

On 13 June 2016, a police officer and his wife, a police secretary, were stabbed to death in their home in Magnanville, France, located about 55 km (34 mi) west of Paris, by a man convicted in 2013 of associating with a group planning terrorist acts. Amaq News Agency, an online outlet said to be sponsored by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), said that a source had claimed that ISIL was behind the attack.

Prosecutor François Molins said the attacker, Larossi Abballa, appeared to be acting on a recent general order from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to “kill miscreants at home with their families” during the month of Ramadan.

On 18 June, prosecutors charged two men, Charaf-Din Aberouz and Saad Rajraji, who had been convicted in 2013 of “being part of a French jihadist group,” on suspicion that Abballa “wasn’t acting alone.”

Attack

On the evening of 13 June 2016, in Magnanville, France, Jean-Baptiste Salvaing, a 42-year-old police commanding officer at the Mureaux police station, was coming home after work to his house in allée des Perdrix.

Around 8:00 p.m., a 25-year-old man, Larossi Abballa, parked his car 20 m away from the victim’s house and hid behind the front gate of the house.

The police officer entered his property at around 8:30 p.m. and Aballa immediately attacked him, stabbing him twice, while shouting “Allahu akbar.” The victim managed to flee into the street, where he met a neighbour and asked him to call emergency services and get to cover.

Abballa finally caught up with the police officer, stabbing him again several times before barricading himself in the house of his victim. Inside the house, he slit the throat of, and killed, the victim’s wife, Jessica Schneider, a 36-year-old administration worker at the Mantes-la-Jolie police station. The couple’s three-year-old child remained unharmed.

Inside the house, at 8:52 p.m., Abballa started a Facebook Live broadcast on his mobile phone while the RAID and BRI police special forces converged on the crime scene and set up an attack plan. In his 13-minute-long live broadcast, Abballa claimed his double murder and his allegiance to Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, ISIL’s spokesperson, considered as the leader of the November 2015 Paris attacks. He also called for “attacks on police personnel, journalists, public figures and rappers”, citing several public figures. He also claimed “we are going to make the Euro a cemetery”, referring to the ongoing UEFA Euro 2016 football competition, taking place in France at that time. He also mentioned the couple’s child, who was still alive, saying “I don’t know what I am going to do with him yet”.

On the scene, police teams evacuated and locked-down the area around the house. The RAID special unit attempted to negotiate with Abballa. During these negotiations, Abballa said he was a practicing Muslim, that he was observing Ramadan, and that he swore allegiance three weeks earlier to ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. He also said he answered a call from Al-Baghdadi to “kill the infidels, at their homes with their families”.

Later in the night, after unsuccessful attempts at negotiating with the suspect, and threats from the suspect to “blow the place up if the police tried to break in”, the RAID assault team, along with BRI officers, entered the house around 12:00 a.m. and killed Abballa in a firefight. They retrieved the dead body of the police officer’s wife and their three year old son, alive but in shock.

Perpetrator

The assailant, 25-year-old Larossi Abballa, was a French citizen of Moroccan descent from the suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie. He was born in Meulan, France.

By 2011, Abballa had already had a police record for theft and violence. In that year, Abballa, then age 20, was arrested for his participation in a group that recruited would-be jihadis to go to Pakistan and Afghanistan for training. Abballa and seven other men were convicted in Paris in 2013 for their involvement in the plot; Abballa was convicted of “criminal association with the aim of preparing terrorist acts.”

On September 30, 2013, Abballa was sentenced to three years in prison, six months of which were suspended; because he had already spent two years and two months in jail awaiting trial, he was released after being sentenced. Abballa was under surveillance for several years after his release, but this monitoring ended in 2015.

The New York Times described the attack as “tied to the Islamic State,” citing al-Adnani’s pre-Ramadan speech urging attacks on Europe and the United States.

Reactions

French President François Hollande said the attack was “unquestionably” terrorism.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on France Inter radio: “I said we were at war, that this war will take a generation, that it will be long.”

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