Aboulakh Anzorov, 18, attacked the father of two after asking pupils to identify his victim moments before the attack. He had stalked Mr Paty, 47, on Friday, before carrying out the murder in broad daylight, soon after 5pm. He had a picture of the victim on his phone. Mr Paty, who was killed outside the school near Paris, had already received threats and was concerned for his safety.
Anzorov was heard to shout “Allahu Akbar” – the Islamic phrase God is the Greatest – before posting a video of the teacher’s decapitated head on social media. The attacker later fired at police with an airgun before being shot dead.
Nine people, including members of Anzorov’s family, were placed in custody in the early hours of yesterday.
Those arrested also included the father of a pupil at the college who had posted a YouTube video calling for people to complain about Mr Paty’s behaviour in class, and calling the teacher “a thug”.
Anzorov, a Russian national of Chechen origin, had posted online messages describing French president Emmanuel Macron as “leader of the infidel”.
A colleague at the Bois-d’Aulne college in the Parisian suburb town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, where Mr Paty had taught history and geography, confirmed the victim had been concerned for his safety.
The teacher said: “Samuel had angered parents by showing a picture of a nude Prophet Muhammad to kids in his freedom of expression class, and there had been threats against him.”
Anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said Anzorov had received a 10-year residency permit in early March.
He said the killer enjoyed refugee status but he had hidden his radical Islamism from the security services.
Mr Ricard said Anzorov was “seen in front of the college in the afternoon, when he asked students to point out the teacher”. A photograph of Mr Paty time stamped at 4.57pm had been found on Anzorov’s phone.
President Macron visited the scene within hours, saying the incident bore all the hallmarks of an Islamist terrorist atrocity. He said the assassin sought to “attack the Republic and its values”.
Mr Macron said: “One of our citizens was assassinated because he was teaching pupils freedom of expression, “It was no coincidence that the terrorist killed a teacher because he wanted to kill the Republic and its values.
“This is our battle and it is existential. They [terrorists] will not succeed. They will not divide us.”
The depiction of Muhammad had been published by Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine which was attacked by Al-Qaeda linked gunman in 2015.
Twelve people were murdered around the publication’s offices in Paris, after the terrorists accused them of blasphemy before being gunned down themselves.
Mr Paty’s killing took place while a trial over the Charlie Hebdo attack is under way in Paris. His decision to show them the image was to spark debate, with Muslim pupils warned they could leave the room first.
Anti-terrorist prosecutors are investigating the attack and linking it with radical Islamism.
Thousands of battle-hardened Chechen refugees, including many devout Muslims, entered France in the early 2000s following two bloody wars against Russia.