Arabic writing on flag and head point to Islamists
A suspect is in custody in the Friday morning attack on an American company in France, where a decapitated head was discovered with Arabic writing on it and a flag bearing an Arabic inscrption was seen.
The suspect, identified as Yacine Sali, was already known to anti-terrorism police.
The French attack was one of three terrorist operations grabbing headlines Friday, prompting questions about whether there might be coordination among them. As the New York Times pointed out, the three strikes on three continents came at roughly the same time, and just days after the Islamic State group called for such operations during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began June 17.
“Muslims, embark and hasten toward jihad,” said the Islamic State’s spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, in an audio message released this week. “O mujahedeen everywhere, rush and go to make Ramadan a month of disasters for the infidels.”
In Tunisia, gunmen opened fire at a beach resort, killing at least 27 people, officials said. And in Kuwait, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an explosion at a mosque in Kuwait City. Local news reports said at least eight people had been injured.
In France, one person was killed and at least two others injured during the operation, which took place at about 10am local time at the industrial gas factory Air Products, located in the southeastern town of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier., about 300 miles south of Paris.
Air Products is based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and has plants all over the world. It specializes in producing industrial and medical gases, with its chief products being oxygen, nitrogen, argon, helium and hydrogen.
The attack came less than six months after the terrorist attacks in Paris on the office of Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish market.
Saint-Quentin-Fallavier is southeast of Lyon in the region of Isere.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve went directly to the site of the attack, and French President Francois Hollande was returning to the country from a meeting in Brussells, Le Monde reported.
At a press conference from Brussels, Hollande said, "We have no doubt that the attack was to blow up the building. It bears the hallmarks of a terrorist attack."
The attack began when a vehicle was driven at high speed into the factory site and into a building housing gas canisters.
One of the attackers reportedly waved an Islamic State flag during the attack.
"The man killed was beheaded, and his head was placed at the front of the factory along with a flag of the so-called Islamic State," reported National Public Radio.
Cazeneuve ordered increased security at other potential targets around the country. He also said the suspect, who is believed to have lived near Lyon, had no prior criminal record. He said that the man had been monitored by authorities as far back as 2006, but he was found not to be in communication with terrorist groups.
Agence France-Presse quoted Cazeneuve as saying the suspect was investigated nine years ago for radicalization and has links to the Salafist movement.
French authorities are "investigating any other people that could be accomplices," he said.