Two women held over Paris knife attack: prosecutor

File Photo showing the front of the french 'Palais de Justice' France's court of justice. (Reuters)
Updated 17 May 2018
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Two women held over Paris knife attack: prosecutor

PARIS: Two women were detained for questioning Thursday in connection with a deadly knife attack in Paris last weekend, France’s top anti-terror prosecutor Francois Molins said.
Molins also said that Abdoul Hakim A., a friend of the knifeman Khamzat Azimov, would be brought before a judge Thursday and potentially charged over his role in the attack.
He said he did not want to give more details of the two women for now, but a source close to the inquiry said one was Ines Hamza, a radicalized 19-year-old who married Abdoul Hakim A. before trying to leave for Syria in January 2017.
Azimov killed a 29-year-old man in the busy Opera district of the French capital on Saturday night before being shot and killed by police.
Molins said five other people had been wounded, and not four as previously reported.
He also said the deceased victim had been stabbed six times, with at least one “indicating an attempt to cut his throat.”
Witnesses said Azimov yelled “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) during the rampage, for which the Daesh group has claimed responsibility, later releasing a video purporting to show Azimov pledging allegiance to the extremist group.
Azimov, a 20-year-old naturalized Frenchman of Chechen origin, had been on France’s two main watch lists for suspected radicals since 2016.
His friend Abdoul Hakim, also 20 with Chechen origins and also on watch lists, was detained Sunday in the eastern city of Strasbourg, where the two men grew up, and later transferred to the headquarters of France’s domestic intelligence services in Paris.
“He has denied any implication in either preparing or carrying out the acts as well as any recent links with Khamzat Azimov, claiming not to have seen or been in contact with him for several months,” Molins said.
But he added that examinations of telephone networks showed that shortly before the attack, Abdoul Hakim has sent his sister a text message of “a militants' chant regularly used by Daesh.”
Investigators want to determine if Abdoul Hakim “may have influenced Azimov in his extremist quest or knew he was planning this attack,” the source said.
During a search of his home in Strasbourg police found seven cellphones but were unable to locate the phone he used most often, sources close to the case said.
“This telephone, he probably threw it away. He told investigators that he had gone to the gym and lost it there,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told RTL radio on Wednesday.
He also revealed that Azimov had carried out his attack “with one of his mother’s kitchen knives.”
Azimov’s parents were released from custody on Tuesday after investigators found no incriminating elements during questioning.
The attack brings to 246 the number of victims from a string of attacks in france by Daesh extremists since 2015.
 

 


MH370 search director disagrees with pilot ditch theory

Updated 22 min 16 sec ago
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MH370 search director disagrees with pilot ditch theory

CANBERRA, Australia: The director of a seabed hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Tuesday disagreed with a new book’s conclusion that the pilot likely flew the plane beyond the search area to deliberately sink it in unexplored depths of the Indian Ocean.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau believes the airliner mostly likely ran out of fuel and crashed after flying far off course en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing on March 8, 2014. It believes all 239 passengers and crew on board were likely long dead inside a depressurized cabin and cockpit.
Search director Peter Foley, who coordinated the search on Malaysia’s behalf, was quizzed by a Senate committee on theories in Canadian air crash investigator Larry Vance’s new book “MH370: Mystery Solved.”
The book argues that two wing flaps found on islands off Africa in 2015 and 2016 point to pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah performing a controlled ditching outside the 120,000 square kilometers (46,000 square miles) that were scoured by sonar in an A$198 million search that ended in January last year. It says Shah’s aim was to keep the plane largely intact so it would disappear as completely as possible in the remote southern ocean.
Foley, who said he has read the book, pointed to evidence that the plane was not under anyone’s control when it hit the water.
He said analysis of the satellite transmissions of the flight’s final moments showed the jet was in a fast and accelerating descent at the end. Debris from within the plane’s interior found washed up on the west coast of the Indian Ocean suggested significant energy on impact, Foley said.
“If it was being controlled at the end, it wasn’t very successfully being controlled,” Foley said. “The flaps weren’t deployed,” he added.
The book argues that the two recovered flaps show evidence that they had been deployed as the pilot slowed the plane for a gentle landing on water.
Foley said an analysis at the bureau’s headquarters in Canberra of the second flap found on the island of Pemba, off the coast of Tanzania, in June 2016 determined it was “probably not deployed.”
But French authorities prevented an Australian analyst from “doing anything meaningful in terms of analysis” of the first flap found. That flap, known as a flaperon, was found on the French island of Reunion in July 2015. French authorities are holding the flaperon as evidence for a potential criminal prosecution.
Foley said his bureau could not conclude that the flaperon had lost its trailing edge because it was deployed when the plane hit the water.
While the bureau has not said who had initially flown the plane off course, Foley said “it’s absolutely evident” that someone had, ruling out some mechanical or electrical malfunction.
Texas-based technology company Ocean Infinity renewed the search this year on the basis that Malaysia would pay it up $70 million if it could find the wreckage or the plane’s black boxes.
Foley said he still hopes the search will succeed within weeks.
“If they’re not, of course, that would be a great sadness for all of us,” he said.