Sarah Halimi’s killer suffered a bouffée délirante

The long-awaited psychiatric evaluation of Sarah Halimi’s killer, Kobili Traoré, was revealed in the media on September 13th. Forensic psychiatrist Daniel Zagury concludes that Traoré committed the crime under the influence of an “acute bouffée délirante” that altered but did not abolish his discernment. This psychopathological state was aggravated, according to doctor Zagury, by the consumption of cannabis, a total of 15 cigarettes. The voluntary drug intake somehow balances out the potential irresponsibility of some sort of temporary insanity in proportions that a judge will be trusted to decide. It is not incompatible with a criminal trial and, according to some reports, Kobili Traoré has already been transferred from a mental facility to the Fresnes prison.

On the night of 4-5 April, Kobili Traoré, a 27 year-old of Malian origin, burst in on Malian neighbors in a state of agitation. The neighbors took refuge in one room of their apartment and called the police. Hearing Traoré reciting Koranic verses, the police called for reinforcements. While they waited in the hallway, Traoré climbed over to the neighboring balcony, broke into the apartment of his Jewish neighbor Sarah Halimi, a retired physician who lived alone in the apartment upstairs from the Traore’s. Shouting allau akhbar and Koranic imprecations, he bashed and battered his victim with relentless fury and then threw her to her death from the 3rd floor balcony. By then, a heavily armed commando had arrived. Too late. Traoré was considered unfit for interrogation, placed in a mental health facility, and finally charged with voluntary manslaughter and sequestration. The aggravating circumstances of antisemitism were not added to the charges. 

A virtual media blackout of the horrific crime was followed by months of dim silence. And now we have a puzzling psychiatric evaluation that confirms the impression of a perverse cover up of a savage Islamic anti-Semitic torture/murder, a systematic refusal to confront the genocidal antisemitism that runs like a deep dark river in Arab-Muslim societies here in France, in Europe, in the countries of origin. How could armed policeman stand down as an enraged man was venting his fury on a defenseless woman? If the killer was possessed by an acute bouffée délirante, the police must have been paralyzed by a bouffée of delirious panic. They reportedly assumed that Traoré must be a terrorist… because he recited koranic verses. Therefore, it would be too dangerous to intervene before the arrival of commandos.

Why did it take more than five months to present this psychiatric evaluation that looks to the naked eye like a whitewash? One more whitewash in an endless series of evasions. Like pre-emptive jail breaks. It has nothing to do with Islam, the car rammer was mentally disturbed, the stabber was depressed by an impending divorce, the mass murderer at the wheel of the truck driving wasn’t even religious, the throat slitter had never read the koran.  

And now the enraged Muslim that batters his Jewish neighbor was a victim of an acute bouffée délirante. My search for the English equivalent of this fearsome psychic state came up with some curious specifics (in italics):

“A French term for a culture-bound symptom complex described in West Africa and Haiti, characterised by an abrupt onset of agitated and aggressive behaviour, confusion and psychomotor excitement.”

Bouffée délirante: an examination of its current status.

Johnson-Sabine EC, Mann AH, Jacoby RJ, Wood KH, Peron-Magnan P, Olié JP, Deniker P


“Bouffée délirante is an historic and unique French diagnostic term for a short-lived psychosis. The key diagnostic features are acute, floridly psychotic symptoms with complete remission. Its use in a Paris hospital has been examined, and it appears that the term is declining in popularity. A case-controlled study indicated that the diagnosis is likely to be given to migrants on first admission. A re-diagnosis of case summaries indicated no particular correspondence of bouffée délirante to any one ICD category. However, the usefulness of having a special diagnostic term for psychosis with a good outcome is discussed.” 

What, then, distinguishes an acute bouffée délirante from chronic murderous hatred of Jews among other infidels?  If the latter is garden variety antisemitism then the former must be a sudden onset of savage antisemitism.

If I understand correctly, Doctor Daniel Zagury would or might agree with the above. Where most French media apparently picked up the story as it broke in le Figaro on September 13th, a regional newspaper, La Voix du Nord, saw fit to add further details from “sources close to the case.” “The heavy dose of cannabis could have triggered the acute bouffée délirante but, according to the expert, this would not be ‘incompatible with an antisemitic dimension’ of the crime. Doctor Zagury describes this bouffée délirante as a ‘polymorphous persecution complex with mystical, demonopathic thematics.’ Though the suspect’s antisemitism has not been established by the investigation, the psychiatric expert supposes that ‘common ordinary prejudice or shared representations were transformed into absolute conviction in the ‘state of delirious agitation.'”

Translated into normal language this would give the doctor’s opinion that ordinary everyday prejudices shared by the suspect’s milieu-the belief that Jews are evil, scheming, devious creatures that killed the prophet- were transformed into “absolute conviction,” in other words, an absolute certainty that the Jewish woman, Sarah Halimi was really, truly and absolutely Satan (shietan).

Daniel Zagury, who is a specialist in the evaluation of mass murderers, does not subscribe to the notion that jihadists are mentally deranged individuals that just happen to commit a certain type of crime. On the contrary, he believes that psychological factors are either rare or minor elements. His lifeline neighbors that of Doctor Sarah Halimi née Lucie Attal.  Born in France to Moroccan Jewish parents, Doctor Zagury spent the first ten years of his life in Morocco. He describes himself as a non-believer-Sarah Halimi became orthodox-who neither hides nor displays his Jewish identity-hers was obvious to the neighbors. “It has always been clear to me that being Jewish means standing in a lineage of history, culture, love, stubborn determination, and the commitment to transmission.” 

Dr. Zagury is 67. Sarah Halimi’s life ended at the age of 66.

Maître Jean-Alexandre Buchinger, counsel for Sarah Halimi’s adult children, takes note that the psychiatric evaluation concludes that Kobili Traoré is fit to stand trial. He has nevertheless filed a request for a second evaluation.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Family Security Matters.

1 reply
  1. Charlotte Tomic
    Charlotte Tomic says:

    Whatever happened in this case? Did the killer go free or to jail? Psychiatric hospital for life? I’m very upset about this case and the one that occurred today of a stabbing of a survivor of Vel d’hiv. I’m a daughter of 2 Holocaust survivors from Romania and am a Paris-born Jew. I’m sick of the hate crimes happening in France without end. It’s appalling to me.


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