French attack suspect had 'link' to Salafist movement

AFP , Friday 26 Jun 2015

Police officer block the area where an attack took place, Friday, June 26 (Photo: AP)

A 35-year-old man arrested in connection with the attack Friday on a French gas factory was investigated nine years ago for radicalisation and has links to the Salafist movement, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

"He was investigated in 2006 for radicalisation, but (the probe) was not renewed in 2008. He had no criminal record," Cazeneuve said.

He identified the suspect as Yacine Salhi, 35, who was known to have lived around Lyon, France's second largest city, near the site of the attack.

"This individual has links with the Salafist movement, but had not been identified as having participated in activities of a terrorist nature," added the minister who rushed to the scene in eastern France.

Salhi had remained on intelligence authorities' radar, Cazeneuve said.

Salafism is an extremist, puritanical form of the majority Sunni branch of Islam.

One person was killed and two injured during the attack in the small town of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, around 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Lyon. A decapitated head was found pinned to the gates of the factory.

Cazeneuve said a local firefighter who rushed to the scene had overpowered and "neutralised" Salhi.

The minister said he had shown "courage and kept a cool head".

"I would like to offer my deepest thanks to the firefighter and his colleagues who came to the scene for their promptness and effectiveness."

Police have taken an unknown number of people into custody for questioning in connection with the case, but it was not immediately clear if any of them played a role in the attack, Cazeneuve said.

Authorities were still working to identify the victim of the beheading, but he is believed to be a local businessman.

Short link: