French authorities are investigating an incident in which an Egyptian terrorist attacked French soldiers at the Louvre.
The Louvre Museum reopened to the public Saturday, less than 24 hours after a machete-wielding terrorist shouting “Allahu akbar!” attacked French soldiers guarding the sprawling building and was then shot.
Allahu Akbar — Arabic for “God is greater” — is a phrase often used by Muslim terrorists during attacks.
International tourists coming to the museum filed by armed police and soldiers patrolling outside the site, which had been closed immediately after Friday’s attack.
The terrorist was shot four times after slightly injuring a soldier patrolling the nearby underground mall, but his injuries on Saturday were no longer life-threatening, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
French President Francois Hollande said there was “no doubt” it was a terror attack and that the assailant will be questioned as soon as possible.
An Egyptian Interior Ministry official confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday that the terrorist is Egyptian-born Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy, 28.
The official said an initial investigation in Egypt found no record of political activism, criminal activity or membership in any terror group by him.
The suspect was believed to have been living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and came to Paris on January 26 on a tourist visa, prosecutor Francois Molins said. The suspect bought two military machetes at a gun store in Paris and paid 1,700 euros ($1,834) for a one-week stay at a Paris apartment in the chic 8th arrondissement, near the Champs-Elysees Avenue.
Family Denies Son is a Terrorist
On the Twitter account of an “Abdallah El-Hamahmy,” a tweet was posted about a trip from Dubai to Paris on Jan. 26. In the profile photo, Hamahmy is seen smiling and leaning against a wall in a blue-and-white sports jacket.
In another tweet in Arabic written shortly before the Louvre attack, Hamahmy posted an angry tirade: “No negotiation, no compromise, no letting up, certainly no climb down, relentless war.”
In an interview Saturday on the Dubai-based news channel al-Hadath, Hamahmy’s father, Reda Refae al-Hamahmy, said he was shocked to learn of his son’s alleged involvement in the latest Paris attack and denied that he was a radical or belonged to any militant groups.
“All I want is to know the truth and find out whether he is dead or alive,” the father said.
“This is all a scenario made up by the French government to justify the soldiers opening fire,” he added. “He is a very normal young man.”
The father said Hamahmy is married with a 7-month-old child and told them he intended to tour the sights in Paris before leaving France. He sent his father a photo of himself with the Eiffel Tower in the background shortly before the clash at the Louvre.
Hamahmy’s brother Ahmed, who works at the Health Ministry in Dubai, was interrogated for several hours by security officials in the UAE, the father said. In Egypt, several domestic security agency officers visited the family home in the Nile Delta on Friday night to question family members.
UAE Condemns the Attack
The United Arab Emirates condemned the attack at the Louvre but UAE officials offered no comment Saturday about the suspect’s possible connection to the country.
The UAE, which includes the Mideast commercial hub of Dubai, is a major destination for guest workers from Egypt and 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.
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.