A preschool teacher in France who reported that a man attacked him in his classroom in the name of ISIS has revealed that he fabricated the entire encounter.
According to the teacher’s initial reports, he was alone and preparing for the day ahead when the man entered his classroom at the Jean-Perrin school in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers wearing overalls and something like a balaclava covering his face. Then he slashed the teacher’s neck with a box cutter or scissors and said, “This is Daesh. It’s a warning,” referencing an alternative name for ISIS.
Believing that the teacher’s reports were genuine, police searched for the attacker, and the 45-year-old teacher was hospitalized for minor injuries to his neck and face. The preschool was closed in response to the news, reports Aurelien Breeden of the New York Times.
However, when the teacher was questioned further by prosecutors, he admitted that he had made up the incident. He had inflicted the wounds himself and lied about the existence of an attacker. A spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office, Agnès Thibault-Lecuivre, said:
He wounded himself alone in his classroom, before the children arrived.
The teacher, who has worked at the school for 20 years, has remained anonymous. According to Jess McHugh of the International Business Times, his confession came hours after the French Minister of Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem visited the school and announced a plan to beef up school security in response to the incident. She is still planning on following through with that plan.
French authorities are now trying to understand why the teacher created the hoax, writes Jaime Fuller and Jen Kirby of New York Magazine. One official said:
He is being interviewed with a view to establishing the reasons for this invented story.
Another theorized that it was:
… done so that he could have himself transferred.
Many are concerned about the safety of schools in France after a recent edition of the Islamic State’s French magazine Dar-al-Islam encouraged followers to kill French teachers for being “enemies of Allah” and teaching children in accordance with the country’s secular priorities. Even French schools in other countries are responding to the threat.
Since six locations in Paris and its suburbs were attacked by ISIS in November, leaving 130 dead and over 350 wounded, Paris has been in a state of emergency. Police patrols have been increased, and the number of raids and arrests for terrorism has grown as well.
Directly after the attacks, school trips were canceled, but now they have largely been reinstated. The country has been on high alert since January of this year when attacks centered on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killed 17 people, including police officers.