ISIS Claims Responsibility For The Driver’s Act of Terror
NICE, FRANCE – ISIS has claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack in Nice, France, that left 84 people dead and scores of people injured. As of this morning French officials feel that the attack was done by one man who was likely self-radicalized.
The Amaq Agency statement, which was posted by ISIS supporters, said a security source told the agency that “the person who carried out the run over in Nice, France, is one of the Islamic State soldiers and carried out the operation in response to calls to target nationals of the coalition which is fighting the Islamic State.”
French authorities named Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, as the man who drove a 20-ton truck through crowds who’d just watched fireworks for Bastille Day celebrations on the Mediterranean beachfront Thursday, killing dozens and injuring more than 200 people.
France has not indicated whether the attack stemmed from a sympathizer taking direction from ISIS or an ISIS member sent to attack.
Authorities did not release information about a motive. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the investigation has so far not uncovered any evidence of jihadism. But French prosecutor François Molins said the attack fits with calls that “terrorist organizations regularly give out on their videos and elsewhere.”
As the investigation continued, French authorities were questioning five people Saturday. Among them was Bouhlel’s ex-wife, who was taken into custody Friday, the anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office said.
French President François Hollande, addressing his country following its third major terrorist attack in 18 months, described the assault as an “unspeakable act.”
“We have an enemy who is going to continue to strike all the people, all the countries who have freedom as a fundamental value,” Hollande said.
Bouhlel was shot to death by police after he barreled down the crowded Promenade des Anglais for almost a mile, crushing and hitting people who had gathered to watch the Bastille Day fireworks. He was identified by fingerprints after his identification card was found in the truck, authorities said.
He was known to police because of allegations of threats, violence and thefts over the past six years, and he was given a suspended six-month prison sentence this year after being convicted of violence with a weapon, authorities said.
Bouhlel’s father, who lives in Tunisia, said his son showed signs of mental health issues — having had multiple nervous breakdowns and volatile behavior, according to multiple sources.
Despite his criminal record, Bouhlel was not on the radar for any kind of terror threat. The man was “entirely unknown by the intelligence services, whether nationally or locally,” Molins said.
“He had never been the subject of any kind of file or indication of radicalization.”
Bouhlel began the attack at about 10:45 p.m., authorities said. At one point, he fired a gun several times at three police officers close to a hotel, the prosecutor said.
The truck used as the weapon was rented on Monday and was supposed to have been returned Wednesday, Molins said, without saying who rented it. Surveillance video shows that about two hours before the attack Thursday, Bouhlel rode a bicycle to pick up the truck east of the city, the prosecutor said.
After Bouhlel was shot, police found a handgun and some ammunition in the truck’s cab, as well as a replica handgun, two replica assault rifles, a cell phone and various documents, Molins said. In the trailer was the bicycle and some empty pallets.
The video used in this story comes from France 24.