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Kiara Alexander, Lydia Baccino, William Bos, Maria Laka, Vivan Negi, Naomi Whipps, Extremism Team

Christina Valdez, Editor; Evan Beachler, Senior Editor

October 14, 2023

French Anti Riot Police[1]

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT to all Arras citizens, French law enforcement, and the French military following a stabbing incident at a high school on Friday, leading to the deployment of 7,000 troops. A 20-year-old Russian national of Chechen origin, Mohamed Mogouchkov, has been identified as the suspect. The student, suspected of Islamic extremism, stabbed and killed their former teacher and wounded another teacher and a security guard while shouting "Allahu Akbar," or "God is greatest."[2] The motive for the attack is currently unknown. The suspect was detained initially by local police, who were monitoring his phone calls before the stabbing incident, but he was released after no plans for an attack were discovered. French intelligence agencies believe the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the reason for the attacks. French authorities have arrested 12 people around schools and places of worship since the attack on Israel, with attack plans discovered.[3] This attack comes exactly three years after the attack on Samuel Paty, a teacher killed by an Islamic extremist who was also a former student.[4] France’s anti-terror prosecutor stated that an investigation is underway, classifying the attack as "murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise" and "attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise."[5] This incident happened a day after the French Interior Minister instructed authorities to prohibit all pro-Palestine demonstrations following the rise of anti-semitism.[6]

CTG is on HIGH alert for the safety of French residents, as increasing societal tensions are VERY LIKELY to continue to materialize into violent threats and attacks. Recent policies enacted by the French government will VERY LIKELY be met with resistance by the Muslim community, VERY LIKELY in the form of demonstrations, even with the presence of military personnel.

On October 13, former student, 20-year-old Russian national Mohamed Mogouchkov, stabbed and killed a school teacher and injured two others at the Gambetta high school in the northern French city of Arras. French authorities believe the suspect has links with Islamic extremists, as witnesses described the attacker shouting "Allahu Akbar," or "God is greatest."[7] Mogouchkov has been under surveillance by French intelligence services for several months on suspicion of Islamic radicalization. French intelligence services detained Mogouchkov on October 12 due to the surveillance of his phone calls, but they did not uncover any plans for an attack. While there is no confirmed motive for the attack, there are several factors leading up to this attack. The incident occurred days before the third anniversary of the killing of Samuel Paty, which saw an Islamist extremist behead a teacher for showing cartoon videos of the Prophet Muhammad spurred by an online campaign, later discovered to involve false claims.[8] One day before the attack, the French Interior Minister banned all pro-Palestine demonstrations to deter anti-semitic threats and attacks following Hamas’ attack on Israel.[9] Despite this ruling, former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has been urging Muslims worldwide to engage in demonstrations to garner support for Palestine. In response to the ongoing tensions, the French government will deploy 7,000 troops by October 16 to increase security around the country. The government describes this tactic as an “attack emergency” threat posture, which allows temporary and quick military mobilization to protect public spaces as needed.[10] For example, on October 14, the Louvre Museum and Versailles Palace were evacuated following anonymous bomb threats. Gare de Lyon, a major Paris train station, was evacuated later that day after police found a possible bottle explosive.[11]

Concerns over national security have increased in France due to the current Israel-Hamas war, resulting in high tensions between Israeli and Palestinian communities. The emotional nature of the war has increasingly impacted national security, as France hosts the third largest Jewish diaspora, while around ten percent of its population identifies as Muslim. Since the attack on Israel by Hamas, protests and demonstrations from Palestinian and Israeli populations have occurred across France. French intelligence agencies stated that they currently have 12 people in custody, many of whom were armed, following their suspicious behavior around schools or places of worship. French authorities have increased the security presence around locations predominantly occupied by the Jewish community.[12]

The deployment of troops to ensure public safety will very likely have a positive societal response from the majority of the population; however, it will likely meet resistance from the Muslim community. It is very likely that the deployment will not deter pro-Palestinian demonstrations from occurring, but rather, demonstrations will very likely turn to protest the government’s ban on these rallies. Tensions are very likely to increase within French society, as some may interpret the government's actions as efforts to combat antisemitism while neglecting Islamophobia, very likely making the Muslim community feel alienated. France’s history of enacting policies, such as banning the wear of religious symbols, which negatively affect the Muslim community, intertwined with a crackdown on freedom of speech for many Muslims, is almost certainly going to increase distrust and discontent with the current government, very likely causing more demonstrations and violence to erupt. The deployment of troops will likely not stop those with aims to harm civilians due to the high political and societal tensions within France.

The bomb threats and anonymous calls, which targeted the Louvre and Versailles, raise several questions about the underlying purpose and motivations of the individuals behind these threats. The calls were likely to assess response times and procedures of law enforcement and emergency services, a common method to evaluate the efficiency of security and crisis management systems. Analyzing how quickly and efficiently authorities react to these threats can provide valuable insight for potential actors planning future attacks or acts of terrorism. Targeting both the Louvre and Versailles almost certainly disrupts cultural and societal symbols, considering their historical significance. The evacuation of the Louvre points to the disruptive impact such threats almost certainly have on public life and the economy. The timing of these threats in the aftermath of a school attack by a former student suspected of Islamic radicalization is very likely not coincidental. The government's heightened threat alert level and the deployment of 7,000 troops indicate the seriousness of the current security situation in France. These bomb threats are likely aimed at exacerbating the sense of insecurity and chaos in the country, highlighting the need for vigilance and security measures.

The investigation into the attack in France presents a complex landscape with various factors to consider. The suspect's background, marked by previous surveillance for radicalization, almost certainly suggests that ideological extremism was pivotal in driving the attack. During the incident, the suspect's repeated shouts of "Allahu akbar" very likely demonstrate extremist inspirations. Comparative analysis with the previous murder of a teacher, sharing notable similarities in victim profile and potential extremist motives, very likely supports the argument that this attack may be a copycat crime. The parallels between these cases emphasize the need to address the influence of past attacks in motivating potential future perpetrators. The suspect's refusal to speak to investigators likely indicates an attempt to hide potential communication or inspiration sources. Ongoing digital forensics and communication surveillance are likely to uncover any links to extremist networks or past attackers.

The previous arrest and subsequent acts of terrorism by the suspect reveal underlying challenges within counterterrorism efforts of identifying and mitigating radicalization. The suspect's prior surveillance indicates that recognizing the signs of extremism and intervening effectively remain daunting challenges.. This situation will likely significantly impact public sentiment and trust in law enforcement and security agencies. Citizens will likely become more concerned about the reliability of these agencies to protect them from potential threats. Consequently, the need for improved intelligence-sharing and coordination becomes evident domestically and internationally, especially if the suspect has connections beyond national borders. This case almost certainly calls for a comprehensive review of current counterterrorism strategies, a reassessment of surveillance protocols, and the development of more efficient methods for detecting and preventing potential threats. The attacker’s history of surveillance and potential radicalization emphasizes the ongoing challenge of online extremism, which will very likely have short and long-term implications for internet freedom, privacy, and anti-radicalization measures. The implications of the high alert go beyond immediate security concerns and encompass societal and international dimensions.

A potential link between the Israel-Hamas conflict and the attacker’s motivations highlights the global nature of terrorism. It underscores how international conflicts have repercussions in other countries, likely prompting a reevaluation of France’s international involvement and foreign policies. France and other nations will likely need to adapt their counterterrorism strategies and policies in response to these challenges.

Terrorist attacks, especially those targeting schools or other public places, will very likely create widespread fear and uncertainty. Individuals who experience or witness such attacks, as well as the broader public, often fear for their safety and the safety of their loved ones. Parents, in particular, will almost certainly be deeply concerned about the security of their children while they are at school. When attackers target schools, the impact on children can be especially severe, very likely resulting in emotional trauma. This trauma will likely manifest as symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health challenges.

The French government’s call to "stay united" following a terrorist attack is almost certainly a multifaceted and strategic response that goes beyond mere rhetoric. It is very likely to promote social cohesion, counteract potential divisions within society, and foster resilience among citizens. By emphasizing the importance of unity, it aims to mitigate fear and anxiety, restoring confidence in its ability to protect the public and preventing retaliatory actions. This message addresses the immediate aftermath of an attack and is likely to play a crucial role in countering extremism, promoting inclusivity, and contributing to long-term social stability. It underscores that the nation's strength lies in its collective resolve to face challenges and uphold its core values, making it a powerful and holistic response to acts of terrorism.

  • CTG recommends for members of the public to follow the advice given by the French law enforcement officials.

  • CTG recommends that members of the school administrative bodies take precautionary measures to guarantee the safety and security of the members of these communities.

  • CTG recommends that members of the public verify the authenticity of the media (photos, videos, posts, etc.) related to this incident before sharing it to prevent misinformation.

  • CTG recommends that law enforcement officials create a space for members of the public to voice their concerns on the matter to gain authentic insight into the most recent developments on the location of police and armed forces contingents.

  • CTG recommends that members of the public avoid large public gatherings and abide by the measures taken by law enforcement and the armed forces.

  • CTG recommends that the Jewish community in France take the necessary precautionary measures to guarantee the safety and security of its members in coordination with law enforcement and military personnel.

  • CTG recommends that French law enforcement carefully monitor large crowd gatherings near government buildings, embassies, places of worship, and cultural centers.

  • CTG recommends that the French internal security agencies, such as the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Intérieure (DGSI) and the military, work together and increase physical surveillance around synagogues, schools, prayer halls, and public spaces in response to the rising anti-semitic sentiments and potential threats.

  • CTG recommends that the DGSI and the police increase electronic and physical surveillance of people registered as potential threats on the "Fiché S" watchlist.

  • CTG recommends that French law enforcement agencies facilitate intelligence sharing and cooperation to monitor and respond to threats effectively.

  • CTG recommends that members of the public report any signs of violent behavior directly to law enforcement to facilitate a timely response.

  • CTG recommends that French law enforcement tighten security and increase law enforcement presence at the upcoming games for the Rugby World Cup.

CTG assesses that the current threat climate is HIGH, given the rising tensions related to the ongoing Hamas-Israel conflict and the recent fatal stabbing of a teacher in an Islamist attack in Arras. Islamist-radicalized individuals and domestic extremist organizations will likely exploit this situation to escalate violence and further disrupt public security. The heightened tensions will likely lead to DGSI and the French military almost certainly increasing electronic and physical surveillance on registered potential threats on the Fiché S watchlist and patrolling outside schools, prayer halls, synagogues, public spaces, and Jewish sites due to the rising anti-semitic sentiments across France. The recent knife attack in Arras shares similarities with the killing of Samuel Paty three years ago, almost certainly implying that these events have occurred before and could very likely recur due to the persistent threat of radicalization and extremism amidst the ongoing Mideast conflict and French Interior Ministry’s decision to ban all pro-Palestinian demonstrations around the country. Saturday’s bomb threats almost certainly contribute to the increasing extremist environment in France while almost certainly multiplying citizen fear and mistrust.

Analysis indicates a HIGH PROBABILITY that the deployment of troops will ALMOST CERTAINLY heighten the already fragile tensions. Hostilities will VERY LIKELY be exacerbated by the increased monitoring by the French intelligence service, as individuals will LIKELY feel targeted due to the bias of religious beliefs. It is LIKELY that large-scale pro-Palestine demonstrations will occur due to the large Muslim population, ALMOST CERTAINLY causing further civil unrest due to the pro-Palestine ban. The murder of Samuel Paty, along with the recent attack, will LIKELY inspire further attacks with this target group in mind.

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[2] France is deploying 7,000 troops after a deadly school stabbing by a Islamic radical, AP News, October 2023,

[3] Ibid

[4] France teacher attack: Seven charged over Samuel Paty's killing, BBC News, October 2023,

[5] Teacher killed in France school stabbing, BBC News, October 2023,

[6] France has banned pro-Palestinian protests and vowed to protect Jews from resurgent antisemitism, AP News, October 2023,

[7] Teacher killed in France school stabbing, BBC News, October 2023,

[8] Samuel Paty: French schoolgirl admits lying about murdered teacher, BBC News, March 2021,

[9] France is deploying 7,000 troops after a deadly school stabbing by a Islamic radical, AP News, October 2023,

[10] Ibid

[11] France deploys 7,000 troops for extra security after teacher slain, Reuters, October 2023,

[12] Ibid



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