France terrorist confesses to beheading attack as gruesome ‘selfie’ emerges

The confession came after it emerged that Yassin Salhi sent a gruesome selfie photo of himself and the severed head to a WhatsApp number in Canada.

A French flag and flowers have been placed on the fence of the Air Products gas factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier near Lyon where the head of the decapitated man was found in an extremist attack. Philippe Desmazes/AFP Photo
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PARIS // The man suspected of decapitating his boss in an attack on a gas factory in France has confessed to the grisly crime, sources close to the investigation said on Sunday.

Yassin Salhi, 35, “has also given details about the circumstances” surrounding the killing, according to the sources who said he would be transferred to Paris for further questioning later on Sunday by anti-terrorist police.

Salhi’s confession came after it emerged the father-of-three sent a gruesome selfie photo of himself and the severed head to a WhatsApp number in Canada.

Investigators say that it could be a relay number and the intended recipient could be anywhere in the world.

After several hours of silence, Salhi began to open up to investigators about the assault.

The latest attack came six months after 17 people were killed in assaults in Paris that began with the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

On Friday morning, Salhi rammed his van into the US-owned Air Products factory near France’s second city of Lyon in what President Francois Hollande said was a “terrorist” attack designed to blow up the whole building.

Police then made the grisly discovery of the severed head of Salhi’s boss, 54-year-old Herve Cornara, pinned to the gates of the factory near two flags on which were written the Muslim profession of faith.

Prime minister Manuel Valls repeated that the world was engaged in a “war against terrorism”.

Friday’s attack came on a day of bloodshed on three continents that saw 38 people mown down on a Tunisian beach and 26 killed in a suicide attack in Kuwait.

The ISIL extremist group has claimed responsibility for those two attacks but no group has said it carried out the French operation.

Sources close to the investigation said Salhi was radicalised more than a decade ago after contact with Muslim convert Frederic Jean Salvi who is suspected of preparing attacks in Indonesia with Al Qaeda militants.

An autopsy on the victim has proved inconclusive, with experts unable to determine whether he was killed before being beheaded or decapitated alive.

The French probe is focusing on Syria, where hundreds of people from France have gone to fight, officials said.

Anti-terrorist authorities have identified 473 people who have left France to fight in Iraq or Syria and Mr Valls said 1,800 people in France were “linked” in some way to the extremist cause.

* Agence France-Presse