Brahim Aoussaoui Nice terror attack suspect identified as knifeman who killed 3 individuals at the Notre Dame Basilica as questions are asked as to motive.
French media identified 21 year old Tunisian immigrant, Brahim Aoussaoui as the individual alleged to have entered the Notre Dame Basilica at around 9am, Thursday morning and killed his three victims, two females, one of whom, a 70 year old woman who was partially beheaded and a male.
Authorities identified the male who had been fatally stabbed as 54 year old man, Vincent Loquès, who was the sexton of the church as well as a father of two. Reports told of the man being killed as he prepared for the first Mass of the day.
At the time of the attack, Aoussaoui, was allegedly heard shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest) before being shot by police and taken to hospital.
The third victim, a woman in her 30’s, was stabbed in the basilica but escaped to a nearby bar where she died shortly afterwards from her wounds. Authorities said the alleged knifeman used a 12 inch blade during the attack.
How did suspect end up in France?
Armed police arrived 10 minutes later and shot Aoussaoui before arresting him.
Italy’s Ill Messaggero reported Aoussaoui arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa on September 20 before being transferred to a coronavirus quarantine.
He was then taken to a migrant centre on the Italian mainland on October 9, before being told to leave Italian territory and released. From there, he made his way to France. It is not clear precisely when he arrived.
Italian security services are now investigating why Aoussaoui was freed rather than detained awaiting deportation.
Police said the assailant was conscious after being shot, gave his name as Brahim and told them he had ‘acted alone’. Of note, were not searching for other assailants.
Officers armed with automatic weapons put up a security cordon around the church on Nice’s Jean Médecin Avenue, the main shopping street, after the attack. Ambulances and fire service vehicles were also at the scene.
Worshippers were inside the building at the time but a witness had managed to raise the alarm with a special protection system set up by the city.
Influenced by recent Paris teacher showing of ‘offensive’ images?
The killings, which occurred ahead of the Catholic holy day of All Saints Day on Sunday, prompted the French government to raise the terror alert level to the maximum ’emergency’ level nationwide.
Thursday’s killings happened half a mile from the scene of a 2016 attack when 86 people were killed and more than 400 injured when a 19-tonne truck was deliberately driven into crowds on the promenade by a 31 year French Tunisian man.
France was already on a heightened alert after the beheading less than two weeks ago of Paris teacher Samuel Paty, 47, by a Chechen-born Islamist after he showed cartoons from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to his students during a lesson on free speech.
The attacks come amid ongoing fury across the Islamic world following claims of ‘derision’ following the teacher’s showing of unclothed images of the Prophet Mohammed to pupils, with France’s President Macron defending the images as free speech. Thursday’s attack also fell on the day that Sunni Muslims mark the Prophet’s birthday.
That episode led to several Muslim-majority countries launching campaigns boycotting French products, while protesters burnt the tricolor and posters of Macron at demonstrations in Syria, Libya, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine.
Of disconcert, the slayings were ‘already being celebrated massively across jihadi communities’ by late Thursday, according to the SITE Intelligence monitoring group.
It remained unclear to what degree the recent disconcert at a French school had inspired Brahim Aoussaoui to target his victims. Not immediately clear is how or why the 21 year old Tunisian man came to target the church or his ‘random’ victims.
Brahim Aouissaoui named as suspect in attack in Nice, France https://t.co/LFgnY8eoLi
— inworldtrend (@inworldtrend) October 29, 2020
A clash of ideology & religion co existing in a secular France
Tunisia strongly condemned a deadly ‘terrorist’ attack at the church in Nice and said it launched an investigation after reports the assailant was Tunisian.
‘Tunisia strongly condemns the terrorist incident in Nice and expresses its solidarity with the government and people of France,’ said a statement from the foreign ministry.
The North African state stressed its ‘rejection of all forms of terrorism and extremism,’ and warned against ‘ideological and political exploitation of religions,’ according to the statement.
Thursday’s slayings was the latest in a series of terrorist outrages in France recent years. In January 2015 a mass shooting at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris by two Islamist gunmen resulted in 17 deaths.
Then November of that year 130 people were killed in a series of co-ordinated attacks in Paris including a mass shooting at an Eagles of Death Metal concert in the Bataclan theatre.
In October 2019, a radicalized computer operative working at the Paris Prefecture in central Paris stabbed four of his colleagues to death. The attacker — who was shot dead — turned out to be a Muslim convert who kept al Qaeda and Islamic State literature and images on his computer.
Last month four people were wounded when a man attacked them with a butcher’s knife outside the former offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
Images on French media today showed the Nice neighborhood locked down and surrounded by police and emergency vehicles. Sounds of explosions could be heard as bomb squad officers detonated suspicious objects.