French Beheading: No Clear Motive But Suspect Confesses

French Beheading: No Clear Motive But Suspect Confesses
Lyon – Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière Faustino Garcia / Flickr CC BY 2.0
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French authorities remained baffled as to the real motive of French Muslim Yassim Salhi, a 35-year-old delivery truck driver who confessed to beheading his boss and attempting to blow up a chemical plant on Friday, news said.


According to the investigators, Salhi has no previous criminal records, albeit in the past, he caught the attention of authorities as being among the hardliners in the Muslim community and was also reported to have frequented Islamic radicals.

When the police reached his home there was no weapons cache discovered. Nor were there any traces of accomplices and material evidence found. News said that Salhi managed to pose for a selfie, boasting the severed head and sent such photo to a Canadian number via WhatsApp.

During interrogation, Salhi said he wanted to commit suicide and wage a media coup by making his crime appear as a terrorist act, iTele TV News said, which further reported that Salhi acted on his own.

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Salhi narrated to the authorities the details of his felony, saying he beheaded Hervé Cornara, the manager of transport firm, in a parking lot before reaching the chemical plant in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, 30km south of Lyon via van registered to a chemical factory, to cause destruction.

On Sunday afternoon, Salhi was transferred for further interrogation to Paris and the local media described him to be a tad “confused” on his motives as he cited issues on his job and family problems.

“We don’t know whether we’re dealing with a fundamentalist who flipped or a real terrorist. Investigators are wondering whether this is not just a simple criminal act,” Reuters quoted a source close to the investigators.

The police who responded recovered Cornara’s severed head tied to factory gates close to two flags bearing a written Muslim profession of faith, according to the Guardian. Cornara’s headless body was spotted near a van, along with a fake pistol and knife.

On Friday, France’s President Francois Hollande labeled the beheading and attempted destruction as a terrorist attack, but authorities maintained that even when Salhi dressed up his crime as terrorism, there was no sufficient evidence to support such motive. No other group claimed responsibility.