Paris attack suspect wanted to avenge Prophet Muhammad cartoons, cell phone video claims

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Investigators in Paris on Monday were studying a video in which a Pakistani man accused of attacking people with a meat cleaver on Friday allegedly said he did so as an act of “resistance” following the republication of a cartoon mocking the Prophet Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo magazine.

The suspect, identified as Zaheer Hassan Mehmood, had the video on his cell phone, French media reported. Mehmood was arrested soon after two people were wounded in front of the old officers of the satirical magazine. Authorities said his clothes were spattered in blood.

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In the video, which could not be independently verified by Fox News, Mehmood identified himself, said he came from Mandi Bahauddin in the Punjab province of Pakistan, and started to sob before reciting poetry praising the Prophet Muhammad.

“If I’m sounding emotional, let me explain: here, in France, the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were made,” he said in Urdu. “I am going to do (an act of) resistance today, Sept. 25.”

Charlie Hebdo routinely mocks figures from all religions in its publication.

Mehmood’s father, Arshad Mehmood, praised his son’s violent actions.

“My heart is filled with happiness,” he told the online news site Naya Pakistan. “I can sacrifice all my five sons to protect the Prophet’s honor.”

“I can sacrifice all my five sons to protect the Prophet’s honor.”

— Arshad Mehmood, father of Zeheer Hassan Mehmood

Arshad Mehmood said his son called him and said that the “God’s Prophet had chosen him; and assigned him to kill the blasphemers.”

Zeheer Hassan Mehmood purportedly said he was spiritually guided by Ilyas Qadri, a Sunni cleric and founder of Dawat-e-Islami. Qadri believes a person who commits blasphemy should be dealt with by the police but also believes that if another person were driven to commit acts of violence by their emotions, the law should not apply.

The cartoons in question were first published by Charlie Hebdo in 2006. Their publication triggered Islamist militants to target the magazine’s office in a grisly attack that left 12 people dead in 2015. Following the attack, the magazine moved to a secret location.

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Charlie Hebdo republished the controversial cartoon earlier this month to mark the beginning of the trial of 14 people with alleged links to the 2015 killers, Reuters reported.



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