Egyptian 'enigma' goes on trial for Louvre machete attack
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Egyptian 'enigma' goes on trial for Louvre machete attack
In this file photo taken on July 06, 2020 People wearing face masks visit the Louvre Museum in Paris, on the museum's reopening day. FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP.

PARIS (AFP).- The trial of an Egyptian who attacked soldiers at the Louvre museum with machetes, shouting "Allah u Akbar" (God is greatest) opened Monday with a description of his "atypical" and enigmatic profile.

Abdalla El Hamahmi, aged 33, is charged with "attempted terrorist murders" and associating with "terrorist criminals".

The married father who did commercial work for a Dubai-based company, faces life in jail for the attack on February 3, 2017.

He launched himself at four soldiers in the shopping precinct at the Paris museum, wounding one in the head, before they shot him.

No one claimed responsibility for the assault, which followed the series of jihadist outrages that left more than 250 dead in France from 2015.

However, El Hamahmi's final tweet before being seriously injured quoted Islamic State group former spokesman Abu Mohammad Al Adnani.

The accused had at first admitted supporting IS before claiming he acted alone on a "personal project" and owed allegiance to no movement.

He said he had intended to throw the paint bombs found in his rucksack at paintings in the Louvre and alert France and the rest of the world to the numbers of children dying daily in Syria.

Four years on, El Hamahmi, addressed the court through an interpreter in Arabic, his voice calm and composed.

Wearing a black T-shirt and his beard visible under a face mask, El Hamahmi described a totally normal childhood followed by law studies, and the joys of family life.

But he also detailed his anger at injustice and extreme poverty.

Psychiatrists found him to be an "enigma" with a "serene" attitude to life incompatible with a "willingness to commit a spectacular act in the face of the world".

Investigators questioned why he carried two machetes if he intended only to damage works of art.

Social network posts show the accused "adhered to a radical Islam inspired by Salafism", said a member of France's domestic intelligence service DGSI, who called his profile "atypical".

The foreign intelligence service DGSE drew up a note about a "video of allegiance" in which the Egyptian "speaks without ambiguity, announces his forthcoming action, says he is answering the call of the Islamic State and that he considers himself a soldier of the caliphate".

The special assize court trial in Paris is due to end Thursday.

© Agence France-Presse

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