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Nice Bastille Day terror attack: Neighbours say killer Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was 'a drinker and a drug-user, but not a terrorist'

BY Kim Sengupta

Published 17/07/2016

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel
Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who killed at least 84 people in Nice on Friday, had no links to any terrorist organisation, according to his friends and family

“The police never did anything while her husband beat her up, but now she is under arrest as some kind of a terrorist for something that her husband, someone she hated, had done?” A neighbour of Khalfallah Lahouaiej-Bouhlel expressed her disbelief.

An apartment block at 62 Route de Turin, where Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel lived
An apartment block at 62 Route de Turin, where Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel lived
Forensics officers and policemen look for evidence near a truck on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Forensics officers and policemen look for evidence near a truck on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Killer: Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel
A sign reading "Liberty, equality, fraternity, let us unite against barbarism" is placed on July 15, 2016 at a makeshift memorial near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people. AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVATBORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images
A woman places flowers on July 15, 2016 near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people. AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVATBORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - A woman looks at a truck stand guarded by the police on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016, hours after it drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display. An attack in Nice where a man rammed a truck into a crowd of people left 84 dead and another 18 in a "critical condition", interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said Friday. An unidentified gunman barrelled the truck two kilometres (1.3 miles) through a crowd that had been enjoying a fireworks display for France's national day before being shot dead by police. / AFP PHOTO / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULATANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images
People stand on July 15, 2016 in front of flowers and candles placed near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people. AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVATBORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images
Forensic police work on the scene of a truck attack in Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
The truck which slammed into revelers late Thursday is seen at the site of the attack in Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Forensic officers stands near a truck with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
The truck which slammed into revelers late Thursday, July 14, is seen near the site of an attack in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A forensic officer stands near a van with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. At least 80 people were killed before police killed the driver, authorities said. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Forensic officers at the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Twitter feed video grab courtesy of @harp_detectives of people running away after dozens of people are believed to have been killed when a lorry ploughed into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice. Photo credit: @harp_detectives/PA Wire
Fire department ambulances and vehicles are parked near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Christian Alminana)
Police officers, firefighters and rescue workers are seen at the site of an attack on July 15, 2016, after a truck drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Emergency services vehicles work on the scene after a truck, left, plowed through Bastille Day revelers in the French resort city of Nice, France, Thursday, July 14, 2016. (Sasha Goldsmith via AP)
Authorities investigate a truck after it plowed through Bastille Day revelers in the French resort city of Nice, France, Thursday, July 14, 2016. (Sasha Goldsmith via AP)
Authorities investigate a truck after it plowed through Bastille Day revelers in the French resort city of Nice, France, Thursday, July 14, 2016. (Sasha Goldsmith via AP)
Ambulances line up near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A man runs near the scene of an attack after a truck drove onto the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Police officers seal off the area of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Ciaran Fahey)
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van, with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers and rescue workers arrive at the scene of an attack on July 14, 2016, after a van ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers and firefighters arrive near the site of an attack on July 14, 2016, after a van ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers speak with a soldier after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
A soldier stands guard near the site of an attack in the French Riviera town of Nice, after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
A man walks with his hands up as police officers carry out checks on people in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

The wife of Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, the mother of three children by a man who murdered 84 people in Nice, has been under arrest by the police since Friday morning following a raid at her home.

But fellow residents of the block of flats in the northern suburb of Nice say they cannot believe that Mrs Lahuaiej-Bouhlel, a woman who in the past had worked in an international hotel, who did not appear to be a devout Muslim, and did not wear a headscarf, could have been the accomplice of an abusive former partner she was seeking to divorce.

Isis claimed on Saturday that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was a supporter who had acted “in response to calls to target the citizens of the coalition that is fighting the Islamic State”. The organisation, however, habitually claims credit for an array of acts of terrorism and no evidence has so far emerged to show it had links with the 31-year-old delivery driver and chauffeur .

Meanwhile, a day after insisting that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel had no terrorist links, the French government said he must indeed have had such links.

Prosecutor Francois Molins had stated on Friday that the killer was “totally unknown to intelligence services...and was never flagged for signs of radicalisation”. But prime minister Manuel Valls said today that he was “in one way or another” linked to Islamists and interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve stated he must have been “radicalised very quickly”.

Five people have been arrested since the killings, three on Saturday and two on Friday including his estranged wife.

But those who knew Mohamed and Khalfallah Lahuaiej-Bouhlel continued to dispute that he was motivated in his violence by religious zeal.

Another neighbour of his wife said: “He, Bouhlel, used to drink heavily and he used to take drugs, he was also a womaniser. All this led to arguments and he would strike his wife, that is why they separated.”

The killer’s father, Monthir Bouhlel, claimed that his son suffered from psychological problems and was sometimes unstable. “He had some difficult times, I took him to a psychiatrist, he took his treatments and he said he had a serious mental illness.

“For four years, from 2002 to 2004 he had problems, he had a nervous breakdown. He would get very angry, and would break things for no reason, he was put on medication. But the one thing he did not get angry about was religion, he did not go to mosque, he drank.”

Lahuaiej-Bouhlel was a petty criminal who has had many brushes with the law. Corentin Delobel, the lawyer who represented him when he received a suspended sentence in March on a charge of assault, said: “I could not say ‘he is a terrorist, he’s an Islamist. He’s radical’. It could have been you or me.”

Source Independent.co.uk

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