PARIS

French security agencies have arrested four Pakistani origin persons, suspecting their involvement in the attack outside the former office of Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, according to a report published in Le Parisien, a French daily newspaper.

Three suspects were indicted on Friday by an anti-terrorism court in Paris for “criminal terrorist association”, while the fourth and the youngest defendant was charged earlier in the week on Dec.14.

The four young men aged between 17-21 are believed to be friends and relatives of the main attacker Zaheer Hassan Mahmoud, the report said.

The latest arrests show that the attack might not have been a “lone-wolf” act but involved coordination and support from like-minded radicalized individuals, said the newspaper, quoting authorities.

On Sept.25, days after the opening of the trial of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack that killed 12 cartoonists and staff members, Hassan struck two people seriously injuring them with a meat cleaver outside the premises of the magazine’s former office.

Owing to the risks and threats following the first attack, the magazine had moved out from its old office to an undisclosed location. Hassan reportedly told investigators that he was angry with the magazine republishing offensive caricatures of Prophet Muhammad at the start of the court trial, which led to massive protests in his native country Pakistan.

In a video uploaded in social media before the attack, a weeping Hassan said he was motivated by speeches of Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the extremist leader of Tehreek-e Labbaik party, denouncing the caricatures. He had arrived in France in 2018 as an undocumented minor immigrant.

On Dec.16, a Paris court found 14 suspects accused of aiding and abetting the 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo guilty on terrorism charges.

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