French beheading ‘was modus operandi of Isis’

French prosecutors confirmed on Tuesday that Yassin Salhi, who beheaded his boss before attempted to blow up a gas factory was motivated by terrorism and had links to Isis.

French beheading 'was modus operandi of Isis'
Yassin Salhi, the man who beheaded his boss and tried to blow up a factory. Photo: AFP

A French prosecutor confirmed Tuesday that the man who beheaded his boss and tried to blow up a gas factory in Lyon had a “terrorist motive” and links to the Isis group in Syria.

Yassin Salhi's barbaric attack “corresponded exactly to the orders given by Daesh” (the term used in France for Isis), said Paris chief prosecutor Francois Molins, pointing specifically to the decapitation of his boss Hervé Cornara, 54.

Molins said his attempt to blow up the Air Products gas factory by crashing his car into cylinders “resembled a martyr operation” but that the decapitation of his manager was also motivated by personal hatred.

Giving more details of the barbaric attack at Saint-Quentin Fallavier, near Lyon, Molins said that Salhi, aged 35 and a father of three, left for work that morning armed with a knife and a replica gun.

According to the prosecutor Salhi confessed to “knocking out his employer using a car jack and then strangling him with one hand.”

He then stopped by the roadside and decapitated Cornara in the back of his delivery van with a 25cm blade. The prosecutor said examinations could not confirm whether the victim was dead or alive at the time of the beheading.

“Salhi decapitated his victim, he hung the head on a fence to get maximum publicity, as he told us during interrogation,” said Molins.

The head was attached to the fence with a chain and surrounded by two Islamic flags which Salhi said he had bought the night before the attack.

“This corresponds very precisely to the orders of Daesh (the Islamic State group)” which calls regularly for acts of terrorism on French soil and in particular to cut the throats of unbelievers.

“The decapitation recalls the habitual modus operandi of this terrorist organisation,” said Molins.

Reports emerged over the weekend that Salhi took a sick selfie of him holding Cornara's severed head that he sent to Syria via a relay number in Canada.

On Monday, sources close to the case told AFP that Salhi had denied any “religious motivation” for the attack and suggested it was all due to personal reasons citing disputes with both his boss and wife.

But Salhi was in “regular contact” with the French jihadist Sebastian Yunis, 30, known to have left for Syria last November.

During a raid on those close to Yunis, who is from Besancon in eastern France, police uncovered a telephone used to contact him in which he said in a Whatsapp conversation on the day of the attack that he indeed knew Yassin and was “one of the reasons he did that”, referring to the crime.

Yunis said in the message he had asked permission from the Islamic State group to publish the gruesome photos.

Molins said Salhi had spent a year in Syria in 2009 with his wife and children, claiming he was there to learn Arabic.

The prosecutor confirmed that a legal investigation had been opened on Salhi who is accused of murder with a link to a terrorist organisation.




Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim’s x-ray

A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a surgeon for trying to sell an X-Ray image of a wounded arm of a woman who survived the 2015 terror attacks in the French capital.

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim's x-ray

Found guilty of violating medical secrecy, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean must pay the victim €5,000 or face two months in jail, judges ordered.

Masmejean, who works at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in western Paris, posted the image of a young woman’s forearm penetrated by a Kalashnikov bullet on marketplace Opensea in late 2021.

The site allows its roughly 20 million users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – certificates of ownership of an artwork that are stored on a “blockchain” similar to the technology used to secure cryptocurrencies.

In the file’s description, the surgeon wrote that the young woman he had operated on had “lost her boyfriend in the attack” on the Bataclan concert hall, the focus of the November 2015 gun and bomb assault in which jihadists killed 130 people.

The X-Ray image never sold for the asking price of $2,776, and was removed from Opensea after being revealed by investigative website Mediapart in January.

Masmejean claimed at a September court hearing that he had been carrying out an “experiment” by putting a “striking and historic medical image” online – while acknowledging that it had been “idiocy, a mistake, a blunder”.

The court did not find him guilty of two further charges of abuse of personal data and illegally revealing harmful personal information.

Nor was he barred from practicing as prosecutors had urged, with the lead judge saying it would be “disproportionate and inappropriate” to inflict such a “social death” on the doctor.

The victim’s lawyer Elodie Abraham complained of a “politically correct” judgement.

“It doesn’t bother anyone that there’s been such a flagrant breach of medical secrecy. It’s not a good message for doctors,” Abraham said.

Neither Masmejean, who has been suspended from his hospital job, nor the victim were present for Wednesday’s ruling.

The surgeon may yet face professional consequences after appearing before the French medical association in September, his lawyer Ivan Terel said.