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Beheading horror 'IS trademark'

Published 30/06/2015

The suspect in the beheading of a businessman, Yassine Salhi, is escorted by police officers as they leave his home in Saint-Priest, outside the city of Lyon (AP)
The suspect in the beheading of a businessman, Yassine Salhi, is escorted by police officers as they leave his home in Saint-Priest, outside the city of Lyon (AP)

A prosecutor has said a beheading and subsequent attack on a French industrial gas factory bore the trademark of the Islamic State group (IS).

Francois Molins said the man accused of the attack, Yassin Salhi, sent two photos of his employer's corpse to an acquaintance in Syria. One showed himself with the severed head while the other displayed the body with the head placed on top.

Mr Molins said the acquaintance indicated IS may distribute the photos as part of its propaganda campaign to attract radicalised Westerners.

Salihi is accused of decapitating his employer then driving to the US-owned gas plant in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier near Lyon, where he allegedly tried to cause an explosion by crashing his delivery truck into gas canisters.

He is being questioned on terrorism charges.

Salhi, a truck driver with a history of radical Islamic ties dating back to 2003, was seized by firefighters at the Air Products chemicals warehouse.

According to Mr Molins, Salhi has denied he was motivated by terrorism and said he neither remembers the beheading nor sending any photos.

"According to him his motive was only personal and not terrorist. One does not exclude the other,"Mr Molins said.

"He decapitated his victim, he hung the head on a chain, and he wanted to get the maximum publicity possible."

Mr Molins has requested preliminary terrorism charges to be filed against Salhi and has opened a formal terrorism investigation, including into his ties with the man in Syria, identified as Sebastien Younes.

Mr Molins said investigators recovered a message in which Younes appeared to be claiming responsibility for inspiring his friend.

Air Products officials said Salhi had an entry badge for the site in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, and had never caused problems in the past.

Mr Molins said Youens, who has been in Syria since November, was in contact with IS chiefs about the photos.

The attack on Friday came days after IS militants urged followers to strike during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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