The machete-wielding terror suspect involved in Friday’s attack at the Louvre has been named as Abdullah Reda Refaie El-Hamahmy and pictured for the first time.
The 29-year-old Egyptian, who remains in hospital after being shot four times by a soldier at the Paris museum, arrived in France on a visa from the United Arab Emirates last week.
El-Hamahmywas heard shouting “Allahu Akbar!” as he tried to enter the Louvre which re-opened to tourists on Saturday.
According to Paris prosecutor’s office El-Hamahmy’s injuries are no longer considered life-threatening.
An Egyptian interior ministry official confirmed El-Hamahmy’s involvement to the Associated Press on Saturday and said that an initial investigation found no record of political activism, criminal activity or membership of any militant groups at home.
On the Twitter account of an “Abdallah El-Hamahmy,” tweets about a trip from Dubai to Paris were posted on January 26.
In the profile photo, El-Hamahmy is seen smiling and leaning calmly against a wall in a blue and white sports jacket.
In another tweet on the account written in Arabic,El-Hamahmy went on an angry tirade ahead of the Louvre attack, posting: “No negotiation, no compromise, no letting up, certainly no climb down, relentless war.” The twitter account is now suspended.
In an interview with the Dubai-based news channel al-Hadath aired Saturday, Hamahmy’s father, Reda Refae el-Hamahmy, said he was shocked to learn of his son’s alleged involvement.
“All I want is to know the truth and find out whether he is dead or alive,” the father said. “I am desperate to know whether he is dead or alive.”
“This is all a scenario made up by the French government to justify the soldiers opening fire,” added the father. He denied that his son was radical or a member of any militant groups. “He is a very normal young man,” he said.
Louvre visitors expressed mixed feelings Saturday on the incident with some tourists planning to leave Paris earlier than planned.
“We heard on the news that a terrorist attack took place... We stayed at the hotel and we’re thinking about cutting our vacation in Paris short,” said Lucia Reveron from Argentina.
Others were stoic and felt safe because of the heightened security presence.
“I went around yesterday, in the evening, and security was everywhere. Even now when we arrived (at the Louvre) we were checked and it’s secure. I don’t feel any threats,” said Kurt Vellafonde from Malta.
With the spate of attacks on the country in the last couple of years many permanent residents have become resilient, even blasé.
“There have been very good security measures taken, and it does not scare me at all,” said Regine Dechivre, laughing.
“It’s the phenomena of a person a little bit disturbed. The investigation will tell us what exactly happened,” she added.
The suspect’s father said El-Hamahmy is married with a 7-month-old child, and in his last contact with the family said he intended to tour the city’s sites before leaving France. He sent his father a photo of himself with the Eiffel tower in the background shortly before the incident.
El-Hamahmy’s brother Ahmed, who works at the Health Ministry in Dubai, was interrogated for several hours by security officials in the United Arab Emirates, the father said. In Egypt, several officers from the domestic security agency visited the family home in the Nile Delta on Friday night to question family members.
The United Arab Emirates condemned the attack after a French official said the suspect was believed to have been living in the UAE.
UAE officials offered no comment Saturday about his possible connection to the country.
The country, which includes the Mideast commercial hub of Dubai, is a major destination for guest workers from Egypt and numerous other countries. Foreign residents outnumber native Emiratis roughly four to one.
“The UAE, while strongly condemning this hideous crime, affirms its full solidarity with the friendly French Republic in these circumstances and its support for whatever measures France may take to preserve its security and safety of its citizens and residents,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement.
France is working with the Emirates to build a branch of the Louvre in the federal capital, Abu Dhabi. The project has been repeatedly delayed and is now expected to open later this year.