There was once a time when this would dominate international headlines. Instead, it's just the new normal.
A terrorist who was wearing a mock explosive vest was shot dead in Paris this afternoon after stabbing three people, killing a man who was trying to protect his wife.
Witnesses told local media the attacker was yelling 'Allahu Akbar' as he launched the assault in the Hautes-Bruyères park in the Villejuif suburb shortly after 2pm on Friday.
Police said the man appeared to be wearing an explosive vest and had made off towards a Carrefour supermarket just under a mile away where he was 'neutralised,' shot several times and died at the scene.
Mayor of Villejuif Franck Le Bohellec told Le Parisen the dead man was a 56-year-old who 'was walking with his wife' when the attacker approached, he wanted to protect his wife and it was he who suffered the stab wound'.
The knifeman has been identified by French media as Nathan C. by his card details which say he was born in 1997 in Lilas, a commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris.
Several sources said Nathan C. suffered from 'psychological problems.'
He was not being tracked as a religious zealot, although 'elements linked to religion' that 'suggested he had converted to Islam' were found among his personal effects, the local prosecutor's office said.
[Terrorist knifeman, 22, wearing a fake explosive vest and 'shouting Allahu Akbar' is shot dead in Paris after stabbing three people and 'killing a 56-year-old man who was trying to protect his wife', by Peter Allen and Ross Ibbetson, Daily Mail, January 3, 2019]
Of course, we're all rolling our eyes when someone says the terrorist was defined by "psychological problems" instead of radical Islam when he's literally screaming "Allahu Akbar." However, we should be cautious. When a person shoots into a crowd and tells them that "God" ordered them to do it, we don't really link such attacks with religion. Unfortunately, Islam has penetrated so far into France that "Allah" may just be the new catch-all for crazy people committing violent acts.
It doesn't mean much that "Nathan C." was born in France, assuming he was from a migrant background. The second generation is often far more "radicalized" than the actual immigrants. However, we don't yet know whether Nathan C. is from a migrant background, is an ethnic French convert, or was suffering from mental illness and just seized on "Allahu Ackbar" as a battle cry for pointless violence.
Police used a robot to examine his body for explosives but none were found. The assailant, who has not been named, was psychologically troubled, according to local sources. He was known to be in the habit of walking barefoot in the park.
[Paris stabbing: One dead and two in critical condition after knife attack in Villejuif, by David Chazan, Telegraph, January 3, 2020]
It's interesting that police were not tracking "Nathan C." as a "religious zealot," because these kinds of politically motivated killers tend to be on the radar of the system already. There are just too many extremists and too few resources to do anything about it.