Scene of attack Air Products site (image, BBC)
Yassin Salhi (35) from Saint-Priest, near Lyon has been detained and 3 others also arrested in relation to an attack today at Air Products chemical factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, near Lyons in south-west France.
Investigations revealed a headless body and a head impaled on a fence with messages written on it in Arabic. AP reported that “two flags one white and one black, both with Arabic inscriptions, were found at the scene.” The deceased who has not yet been named was discovered to be Salhi’s boss (age 55) at a local transportation/delivery company which served the factory. According to Chicago Tribune, “the industrial site belongs to Air Products, an American chemical company based in Allentown, Pennsylvania.” The Guardian reported that Air Products “supplies gases, chemicals and associated equipment. It has 20,000 employees and outlets in 50 countries.”
A French prosecutor who spoke on Sky News, said that a vehicle was caught on CCTV cameras entering the site which had security clearance as the person was known to employees at the factory. French authorities alleged Salhi had previously been under the surveillance of security services after concerns he had been radicalised but this was dropped back in 2008.
Firefighters were called to the factory due to risk from explosive material and Salhi who did not appear to have a criminal record was detained at the scene allegedly trying to release acetone. Salhi was identified by staff at the factory and a knife was also found at the scene. The suspect was known to be linked to Salafists in Lyon. Four people have been arrested, the suspected attacker Salhi, his wife, sister and another unnamed individual.
Michael Horowitz, geopolitical and security analyst, at a private consultancy firm tweeted,
The gaz factory that was attacked in
#France had just signed a contract to build one of the biggest gas complex in Saudi Arabia
According to Reuters (23rd April 2015) “a joint venture between Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Holding and U.S.-based Air Products has been awarded a contract to build, own and operate the world’s largest industrial gas complex by Saudi Aramco.” The contract was said to be worth $2 billion.
No-one has yet claimed responsibility though jihadists have given warnings in recent media releases suggesting US nuclear plants might be at risk of security breaches but no mention of gas plants. Two other terrorist attacks were also carried out today, the bombing of a Shia mosque in Kuwait City and an attack on a tourist resort in Moussa, Tunisia which left 38 dead.
President of France, Francois Hollande responded by placing the region under the highest security alert. According to Newsweek, “Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s nationalist Front National party has called on authorities to expel all foreign citizens suspected of fundamentalism and to begin monitoring prayers and gatherings at all mosques.”
Earlier this year the offices of Charlie Hebdo publication were targeted in Paris following publication of cartoons on the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) see Links section.
“Charlie Hebdo attack and hypocrisy in freedom of expression”
“Charlie Hebdo hunt: Bloody end to sieges”
“Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsular: AQAP release statement on Charlie Hebdo Paris attacks”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.