By Joe Wilson
WASHINGTON – More details are emerging concerning the terrorist who attacked police in Paris with a hammer, screaming “This is for Syria!” Tuesday, including information about his past as a prize-winning journalist.
Farid Ikken is a 40-year-old Algerian doctoral student who attempted to batter two French policemen with a hammer in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral, previously worked in Sweden as a journalist.
Ikken was awarded the “EU Commission’s National Journalist Prize against Discrimination” for an article concerning racism against illegal immigrants in Sweden, according to a Swedish newspaper. His article specifically addressed asylum seekers who were not given health care through Sweden’s welfare system.
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Ikken was enrolled at University of Lorraine in eastern France. Since 2014, he has been writing a thesis about North African media.
Arnaud Mercier, Ikken’s thesis adviser, told France’s BFM-TV the assailant speaks Swedish, Arabic and French and that the graduate student’s resume says he has experience as a journalist in Sweden and Algeria.
“He was someone who believed a lot in democratic ideals, the expression of free thinking, in journalism,” Mercier said. “Nothing, absolutely nothing, foretold that one day he’d be a jihadi who’d want to kill a policeman in the name of I don’t know what cause.”
Ikken’s nephew, Sofiane Ikken, said his uncle studied journalism in Sweden and was hired by a company in Oslo, Norway, which assigned him work in Paris. Then, in 2011, Ikken returned to Algeria and opened a public-relations agency with an online newsletter. He later moved to France to begin his doctoral studies in journalism.
Police classified Ikken’s attack as a “terrorist act” because of “the words he said,” French government spokesman Christophe Castaner told RTL radio. One police officer suffered injuries to his chin from the assault.
Ikken was shot but not killed by French police during the attack, and he is currently receiving treatment in a Paris hospital.
This discovery comes on the heels of another bloody attack perpetrated by a man who previously had a high media profile, Khuram Butt. Butt, who was the ringleader of the London terror attack on June 4, was featured on a Channel 4 documentary, “The Jihadis Next Door,” aired on British television. He, along with two other jihadis, drove a van through a crowd of pedestrians on London Bridge and then jumped out to attack civilians with knives, killing eight and wounding dozens more.