French prosecutors on Wednesday argued that the person who beheaded a French teacher last week had paid two students in exchange for helping the attacker identify the teacher.
Prosecutors claimed that 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov, whom police shot and killed after he attacked 47-year-old history teacher Samuel Paty in broad daylight, had paid two teenage students approximately €300, about $355, to point out Paty, according to BBC News.
Prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said at a press conference Wednesday that Anzorov had told students he wanted to “film the teacher [and] make him apologize for the cartoon of the Prophet [Muhammad].”
Paty had received intense criticism from parents after he had reportedly shown his students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a civics class on freedom of expression.
Ricard added that the students, aged 14 and 15, allegedly described Paty to Anzorov and stayed with him for more than two hours outside the school until the teacher appeared.
The students, who were not named due to legal restrictions, are two of seven people whom French authorities are aiming to bring charges against over the beheading, according to the BBC.
On Tuesday, The Associated Press reported that French police were holding 16 people for questioning in connection with the attack in Pantin, located northeast of Paris.
Ricard argued on Wednesday that there was a “direct causal link” between the killing and an online hate campaign directed against Paty.
France’s interior minister on Tuesday ordered the closure of the Grand Mosque of Pantin after it had shared a video on its Facebook page that directed verbal attacks at Paty prior to the teacher’s beheading.
In the video, a man who said his daughter was in Paty’s class called the teacher a “thug” and asked other parents to “join forces and say ‘stop, don’t touch our children.’”
According to the AP, the father quoted his 13-year-old daughter as saying that Paty had asked Muslims to leave the classroom, although this detail was disputed by Paty himself prior to his killing.
The BBC reported Wednesday that a student’s father, identified by French media outlets only by Brahim C, allegedly issued a “fatwa,” or Islamic legal pronouncement, against Paty.
On Wednesday, Ricard confirmed reports that Brahim C had communicated via text messages with Anzorov prior to the attack last week.
French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronFrench mosque closed in crackdown after teacher’s beheading French high school teacher decapitated in possible terrorist attack France sets one-day record with more than 30,000 new COVID-19 cases MORE has asked for swift action in the investigations into Paty’s killing, blaming what he calls “separatism,” referring to Islamic extremism.