“He was overpowered by a firefighter as he was trying to prise open a bottle of acetone in an apparent suicidal bid to destroy the factory. Police then found the severed head of his boss, Cornara, tied to the gates of the factory near two flags on which were written the Muslim profession of faith.” Now he is saying that he “had wanted to kill himself and stage a media coup by dressing it up as a terrorist act.” Well, all right. That may be. But whatever the truth may be, clearly jihad terror was part of his frame of reference. If he was really just angry with his boss and wanting to commit suicide, he didn’t just shoot the boss and then turn the gun on himself. Instead, he beheaded the boss, in accord with the Qur’an’s command, “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks” (47:4), carried flags which proclaimed the Islamic profession of faith, and tried to destroy the factory altogether.
Even if all this was precipitated by his personal crisis and was just all about his anger toward Cornara, to express his anger he turned to jihad. The larger problem that the West refuses to face is that Muslims who are leading perfectly ordinary lives can in times of crisis or difficulty opt to turn to jihad, and the beliefs underlying jihad violence are not being taught against in mosques or Islamic schools in the West.
“French beheading: suspect confesses to boss’s murder but motives unclear,” by Angelique Chrisafis, Guardian, June 28, 2015:
Yassin Salhi, the French lorry driver who decapitated his boss before ramming a vehicle into a chemical plant near Lyon, has confessed to the murder – but his motives remain unclear.
He told detectives he had killed Hervé Cornara in a parking area before arriving at the plant in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, 18 miles (30km) south of Lyon, where he attempted to cause an explosion on Friday.
Salhi, 35, was transferred to Paris for further questioning on Sunday afternoon. Several French media reported that during questioning he had been “confused” as to the motives behind the attack, citing personal problems linked to family issues and his job.
The TV news channel iTele said Salhi had told police he had wanted to kill himself and stage a media coup by dressing it up as a terrorist act. The news channel said Salhi had told police he had acted alone.
Days before the attack, he was reported to have fallen out with Cornara, 54, the manager of the Lyon-area transportation company where he had been employed on a permanent contract since March. “We don’t know whether we’re dealing with a fundamentalist who flipped or a real terrorist,” one source close to the investigation told Reuters. “Investigators are wondering whether this isn’t just a simple criminal act.”
On Friday morning, Salhi, a married father of three, had rammed his van into the US-owned Air Products chemical factory in what President François Hollande said was a “terrorist” attack designed to blow up the building. He was overpowered by a firefighter as he was trying to prise open a bottle of acetone in an apparent suicidal bid to destroy the factory.
Police then found the severed head of his boss, Cornara, tied to the gates of the factory near two flags on which were written the Muslim profession of faith. The victim’s headless body was found by the van with a knife and a fake pistol lying nearby.
An postmortem examination on Cornara has proved inconclusive, with experts unable to determine whether he was killed before his head was cut off. More tests are being carried out.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office, said investigators had not found any foreign connection.
Searches on Salhi’s home turned up no weapons cache, propaganda material or evidence of accomplices. The police established that Salhi used the instant messaging service Whatsapp to send a macabre selfie posing with the severed head to a Canadian telephone number. Investigators have warned that it could be a relay number and the intended recipient could be anywhere in the world.
Salhi was born in the Doubs in north-eastern France to parents of Moroccan and Algerian descent. His father had died when he was a teenager. About a decade ago, Salhi is known to have had contact with a Muslim convert, Frederic Jean Salvi, known as “Ali”, who was suspected of preparing attacks in Indonesia with al-Qaida militants.
Sahli was placed under “discreet” police surveillance in 2006 because of his contact with Salvi, but that surveillance ended in 2008 because, according to the French interior ministry, he “was not known to be in contact with terrorist actors”. The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said Salhi had been investigated for links to radical Salafists in Lyon, but was not known to have participated in terrorist activities and did not have a criminal record.
French media cited Salhi’s former martial arts instructor as saying the otherwise calm man was subject to such outbursts of rage that other pupils would refuse to spar with him….