On June 26, 2015 at 9:28 am, Yassin Salhi (a driver for a delivery company)…
On June 26, 2015 at 9:28 am, Yassin Salhi (a driver for a delivery company) entered the Air Products Gas Company in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier (next to Lyon), one of the largest industrial neighborhoods in Europe. Salhi, who was known by the guards and had all necessary permits to work in this sensitive site. He previously beheaded his employer and placed his head on the fence of the company along with two flags with the Shahada written on them. He then drove his car into a hangar in order to set fire to gas and acetone cylinders, injuring two employees.
The attacker, yelling God is great in Arabic, was arrested at 10:00 am by French authorities.
Salhi sent a picture of the beheading via Whatsapp to a Canadian number located in Syria. The phone number was later attributed to Yunes-Sébastien V-Z, a French Foreign Fighter currently fighting for ISIS in Raqqa.
It is important to note that a number of other attacks attributed to ISIS took place on the same day. They include a shooting attack in Tunisia and a bombing attack against a Shi’a Mosque in Kuwait. In Syria, ISIS killed more than 150 civilians in Kobane. These attacks came three days after ISIS called for attacks during the Ramadan.
ISIS mentions the attack on Twitter.
The Perpetrator: Yassin Salhi
- Yassin Salhi was born in March 1980 in France, the son ofan Algerian father and Moroccan mother.
- Salhi was on the radar of the French intelligence since 2006 for his link to the Salafist community.
- He was radicalized by Frédéric Jean Salvi, aka Ali. Ali is a preacher in Pontalier (in the Doubs) where Salhi was born. Ali converted to radical Islam in prison and is the main suspect of a terrorist plot in Indonesia in 2010.
- Salhi may have links to an individual who belongs to Forsane Alizza.
- His mother and sister declared that Salhi left for Syria in 2009 but investigators are still looking for evidence.
The trigger for the attack refers to the background and motivations for carrying out a terrorist attack. These are the results of internal processes within France, as well as a result of external fighting in the Middle East and other areas. There are several factors or scenarios that can influence the constraints of radical groups and motivate terrorists to conduct attacks. Those scenarios – threat multipliers – are divided into internal and external events. In cases when one or more threat multiplier occurs, the likelihood of an attack increases.
Relevant Threat Multipliers
- The attack took place on the second Friday of Ramadan
- The presence of returning Foreign Fighter
- The Forsane Alizza trial
- The region is known as a hub of radicalization since the 1990s (e.g. Khaled Kelkal)
- ISIS declared their proclamation of the Caliphate on June 29, 2014
- The situation of ISIS in Iraq and Syria
- Role of the social media (viral videos of beheadings from Syria and Iraq)
- The increase of homegrown terrorist attacks and the copycat effect