Before the attack, a Pakistani teenager demanded a better life in France

KOTLI QAZI, Pakistan (AP) – Ali Hassan was only 15 years old when he left Pakistan for smuggling into Europe, dreaming of a better life for his elder brother and many youngsters in his home country.

Nearly three years later, Hassan is in a Paris prison after allegedly assaulting and seriously injuring two people with a meat cleaver. Prior to the September 25 attack, he announced in a video that he was seeking vengeance after the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo published the caricature of Prophet Muhammad of Islam.

There is little information about Hassan’s time in France. Confusion over his age remains, but the Associated Press obtained his official identity documents in Pakistan, which confirmed that he is currently 18.

French authorities are investigating a September 25 stab as an Islamic extremist attack. The stabbing heard an echo of the January 2015 attack on a newspaper in which 12 of its employees were killed by terrorists who claimed they were acting in the name of al-Qaeda.

So far, there has been no indication that Hasan was associated with any terrorist group. Instead, the teenager’s anger – far from home in the world to anyone he knew – may have its roots in Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

Hassan’s journey started from Kotli Qazi’s house, deep in a rural area of ​​Punjab province. The small village weaves through vast agricultural fields on a narrow, rough dirt road.

Small cement houses are crowded together, their walls made of cow dung with blistering baking in the afternoon sun. By sunset they would be peeled off the walls and the evening fires would erupt.

Many youths, including Hasan’s childhood friends, said they dream of reaching Europe to find prosperity – in recent years at least 18 village youth have lived abroad. At the same time, he hired Hassan as a hero to carry out the attack.

The district in which Kotli Qazi is located, a radical political party, the Tehreek-i-Labbaq, has powerful influence – its only agenda to uphold the blasphemy laws, which call for capital punishment against those who break Islam. Just a few months after Hasan arrived in France, the LaBike Party-backed protesters blocked and blocked roads in the district and other parts of Pakistan in November 2018, angered that a young Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was killed The queue was freed. Ishaninda faced hanging on charges.

Childhood friend Mohammad Ikram quoted Hassan as saying, “He went to France compared to other countries because Saudi Arabia’s earnings are much better there.” “The youth of our region want to live in Europe.”

But, he said, “All our friends said that if they were in their place they would have done the same if they had done anything wrong against the Prophet.”

Ali’s longtime neighbor Amina remembered Hassan as a good boy in the 80s.

“He never went in search of mischief like those other boys. No, he just wanted to study, ”she said. Sitting on a traditional rope-woven bed in a dusty compound, he said with several members of his family: “Righteously he did the right thing. You may not agree, but they did the right thing. “

Neighbors and shopkeepers said that Pakistan’s powerful security agencies did not tell them anything about the Hasan or Paris attacks. Many expressed concern for the image of his small village.

“Please do not hurt the dignity of our village, do not take away our dignity”, pleaded a shopkeeper, who did not want to reveal his name for fear of the plain police standing nearby.

Haasan’s father Arshad Mehmood refused to talk to the reporters who knocked on his home gate. The Pakistani police and intelligence department warned him against speaking in public to openly talk about his son’s antics.

Shuja Nawaz, a Washington-based Atlantic Council writer, political and security analyst and a fellow, said the influx of young migrants from countries such as Europe collides with two factors.

He said, “First of all, situations like Pakistan in domestic countries are becoming more Islamic and Western due to the influence of mullahs and populist governments, while their education system has collapsed.” “Second, in Western countries, where expatriates end legally or illegally, there is a ghetto of Muslim immigrants who turn religion into a defense mechanism and rally venue.”

Official identification documents seen by the AP confirm Hasan’s date of birth on August 10, 2002, the youngest of nine siblings.

An older brother, Bilal, now 32 years old and reportedly hailing from Italy, was the first of the siblings to travel in Europe, neighbors and police officials said. Hasan’s younger brother, Ali Murtaza, now 16 years old, also moved to France and was arrested along with Hasan, though he was later released.

Hassan’s friend Ikram said that the “illegal” route to Europe can be very dangerous, but the majority of people from his village are like Hassan between the ages of 15 and 16 because minors will not often be thrown out.

Hasan started the journey through Iran, Turkey and Italy in early 2018 and finally reached France in August 2018. He was registered as a minor and was initially housed in a residence in the Parisian suburbs, where he was assisted. Minors.

At some point, he moved to working-class pantene with a large immigrant population, including North-Africans, Sub-Saharan Africans, and Pakistanis. He along with several other Pakistanis were living in a brick building above a hookah bar and auto parts shop.

“They were calm, they had their own lives, left in the morning to work,” said Zayed Zayed, who runs an auto shop. He said that he does not know where Hasan worked, but said that Pakistanis often find jobs in restaurants.

It was in Pentin that while Hasan was living on 1 September, Charlie Hebdo republished Muhammad’s imprisonment. The newspaper said it was a demonstration of freedom of the press on the eve of the start of the first trial of the January 2015 attacks.

On 25 September, Hassan made an appointment in the Val d’Oise Regional Administration to review his residency status. Hassan had just turned 18, meaning he was no longer a minor and would lose his claim to reside in France until he could make an asylum case.

Instead, Hasan thought of what he had gone into Charlie Hebdo’s office, unaware that they had left. With a cleaver, he attacked two people who got out, worked for a documentary film company, seriously injuring them. He was caught soon after the blood splatter on his forehead at the footsteps of the Bastille Opera.

Relatives told investigators that in recent weeks, Hasan had been watching videos by the leader of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik party, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who denies the publication of the Karsevaks, French prosecutors said.

In a video posted on social media before being stabbed, Hasan cried and said he was inspired by the party.

“If I am passionate, there is a reason for this and let me share it with you. Here in France, the Prophet’s caricatures were drawn, and I am going to oppose it today. “


Aseem Tanveer, author of Associated Press in Multan, Pakistan, and Ellen Ganley and Angela Carlton in Paris contributed to this report.


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