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Islamist Perpetrator of Attack at Paris Cathedral Was Award-Winning Journalist in Sweden

avatar by Ben Cohen

A still image from video footage of Tuesday’s attack outside the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Photo: Screenshot.

The Islamist terrorist who attacked a police officer outside the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Tuesday was an award-winning journalist who previously worked as freelancer for Swedish public radio, Swedish media outlets reported on Wednesday.

The suspect in the attack, 40-year-old Algerian-born Farid Ikken, is said to have moved to Sweden in 2004 after marrying a Swedish woman.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ikken charged with a hammer at a police officer on patrol outside the iconic Paris cathedral. He was also, according to reports, carrying two knives. As he battered the officer, he shouted, “This is for Syria!” An armed police officer who was also in the area then fired two shots at Ikken, who was wounded and is currently being treated at a hospital.

Paulina Neuding — a Stockholm-based journalist who has written extensively on Islamist extremism and antisemitism in Sweden — told The Algemeiner that Ikken “studied journalism at Uppsala University, and worked as a freelance journalist for many Swedish media outlets, including Swedish national public radio (SR), the equivalent of BBC in Britain or NPR in the US.”

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“SR is the institution in Sweden which the Swedish public trusts the most, according to a recent report from Gothenburg University,” Neuding pointed out.

In 2009, Ikken won an EU Journalism Award for a feature in the Swedish magazine “Folket i Bild” on asylum seekers with no healthcare rights.

Neuding observed that “this is not the first time that a Swedish citizen is involved in a jihadi attack in Europe.”   Swedish Islamists have been involved in other attacks on the continent, including the assault on the Bataclan nightclub in Paris in November 2015, in which 89 people lost their lives.

“The Swedish authorities have been very slow to understand the severity of the threat posed by jihadis,” Neuding said. “Three years ago, the Stockholm municipality adopted a program for returning ISIS fighters, including provisions for health care and housing. The program was later revised after severe criticism from the opposition, but it says a lot about how naive Swedish authorities have been.”

Swedish public records show that Ikken left Sweden in 2013 to briefly return to Algeria, before going to Austria to study for a PhD. An academic who worked with him told a Swedish reporter on Wednesday that “there was not the least trace of him being an Islamist.” Ikken, the academic said, “didn’t have a beard, and he didn’t wear special clothes…he enjoyed being a journalist.”

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