Mohammed Mogouchkov, the 20-year-old refugee from the Russian Caucasus who killed one person and wounded three others in a knife attack at a school in the Northern French city of Arras on Friday, was apparently looking for a history teacher. This is according to the testimony of Martin Dossau, a philosophy teacher at the Lycée Gambetta who was confronted by the assailant in the courtyard of the school before being able to escape to safety indoors.
In an interview with France’s CNews news channel which was recorded shortly after the attack, Dossau recounted venturing out into the courtyard to try to help one of his injured colleagues, at which point the assailant turned towards him, repeatedly asking, “Are you a history teacher? Are you a history teacher?”
Dossau said that he was surprised by the question and that it immediately made him think of Samuel Paty, the history teacher who was assassinated by a Chechen refugee, Abdoullakh Anzorov, in a school in a Parisian suburb, a few days after having shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a civics class on freedom of expression. Mogouchkov, like Anzorov, is reported to have yelled “Allahu Akbar!” during his attack. Today is the three-year anniversary of the assassination of Samuel Paty.
Mogouchkov, who had known ties to Islamic radical networks in France, was under surveillance by French security services. Just four months ago, in June, his elder brother Movsar was found guilty of disseminating terrorist propaganda and sentenced to 18 months in prison, after having already been found guilty in April of forming part of a terrorist association for his part in a 2019 terror plot.
In the days leading up to the Arras attack, Mohammed is reported to have had lengthy exchanges on the Hamas-Israel war via text messages with both his brother Movsar and his father.
Both Mohammed and Movsar are former students of the Lycée Gambetta in Arras. Did one or the other of them perhaps hear through the grapevine about a history teacher at their former school expressing views on the history of the Middle East conflict which were unacceptable to them? Perhaps views which are too sympathetic to Israel?