French jihadist gets 28 years for prison attack

Bilal Taghi, le 19 novembre 2019

A Paris court on Friday sentenced a jailed Islamist radical to 28 years imprisonment for the attempted murder of two prison wardens in September 2016, the first jihadist attack in a French prison.

Bilal Taghi was serving a five-year sentence for attempting to travel to Syria for jihad when he stabbed two prison guards at Osny prison northwest of Paris using the hinge of his cell window, which he had sharpened.

He also etched the symbol of the Islamic State (IS) group on a metal door and drew a heart on a window with the blood of his victims.

After the attack the 27-year-old said he had wanted to kill a representative of the French state on behalf of the Islamic State group and would do so again if given the chance.

He boasted about hoodwinking his jailors into believing he was someone "who could be reintegrated into society" by "being chatty."

During his trial however he appeared contrite, apologising for his actions and vowing that he had renounced extremism.

The prosecution dismissed his expressions of regret, describing him as a compulsive liar who was "irrevocably committed to radical ideology."

His attack, which took place in a prison wing dedicated to combatting extremism, led to a review of the way in which radicalised prisoners are managed.

Osny prison was one of four in France that had been chosen to trial dedicated counter-extremism wings after several jihadist attacks whose perpetrators had become radicalised in prison.

- Yoga and painting -

The inmates in the anti-radicalisation wings were held separately from other prisoners, a fact that Taghi himself described as counter-productive.

"You bring together people who think the same way and tell them to all change. It doesn't work," he told the court.

He was also very critical of some of the activities offered radicalised prisoners, such as yoga and painting, seeing them as "childish."

After his attack, the authorities put in place a new programme whereby convicted jihadists and prisoners suspected of having becoming radicalised undergo four months of screening.

Those who still harbour radical thoughts are placed in anti-radicalisation programmes while those considered very dangerous are placed in isolation units.