An Egyptian man accused of attacking French soldiers guarding Paris’ Louvre museum is refusing to cooperate with police, the news agencies said Sunday, citing sources in the Paris prosecutor’s office.
“The first interview took place this morning, but it turned out to be a short one. For the moment, he refuses to talk to investigators,” an unnamed source told Reuters. The Associated Press said the same, adding that the suspect would remain in custody.
An Egyptian Interior Ministry official confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday that the suspect is 28-year-old Egyptian-born Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy. U.S. law enforcement sources have confirmed his identity to CBS News.
The Paris prosecutor’s office has said the attacker was shot four times Friday after injuring a soldier patrolling an underground mall near the famous museum but his injuries are no longer life-threatening.
On Saturday, al-Hamahmy’s father told The AP he trusts the French judiciary to find out the truth behind his son’s alleged involvement.
The father said his son is not a terrorist and that he leads a normal life with his wife and infant son.
Speaking at the family home in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, north of Cairo, the father said “if he is convicted, God be with us. But if he is innocent, they owe us an apology.”
“He is a very respectable man who never had a problem with anybody, he never had any sort of political views,” he said. “His main concern in his life was his work in the United Arab Emirates,” he said, adding that his son had gone to France on a “work assignment.”
Abdullah has lived in Dubai for the past five years, employed by what his father said was a law firm.
Ibrahim Youssry, a close friend of Abdullah al-Hamahmy, said his behavior on the day of the attack did not betray any intention to commit an act of violence.
“Before the attack, he commented on one of our friends’ pictures on Instagram and liked some (other) pictures. He also called his father and asked him what to bring for him from France. All this contradicts the French story,” said Youssry.
Two Egyptian officials said Sunday that local security agencies were continuing to gather information on al-Hamahmy, the son, to establish whether he was a member of any militant groups or had been radicalized.
“We are trying to determine whether he was a lone wolf, worked with a group or he is innocent,” said one of the two officials, who is employed by the Interior Ministry. Investigators were examining his social media accounts, he added.
“His tweets show a radicalized person. He supports the Daesh and other extremists in Syria,” said the official, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
One recent tweet by Abdullah al-Hamahmy defended the Islamic State.
“Why are they sacred of the Islamic State? Because the Islamic State defends its resources, territory, the honor and dignity of Muslims,” he wrote.
The information gathered on Abdullah al-Hamahmy will be shared with French authorities, according to the second official, who is with the Foreign Ministry.
Both Egyptian officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.