Despite claims that the Nice truck attacker was a radicalized Islamist, close friends of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel say it "just doesn't add up" noting "he ate pork, he drank alcohol, he hit his wife," the mainstream media narrative that he was an ISIS jihadi were 'confirmed' today. As WSJ reports, Islamic State on Saturday claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, saying the assault was a response to calls by the extremist group to target those nations allied against it, adding that so-called "Crusader states" weren’t safe from its fighters in a news bulletin broadcast over its Al Bayan radio station.
On Thursday night, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel maneuvered a 19-ton truck white truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people and injuring many more. Mainstream media instantly ascribed the atrocity as an act of terrorism... and now we get the first quasi-confirmation of that narrative, as AP reports,
The Islamic State on Saturday claimed the Tunisian man who barreled his truck into a crowd in the French resort city of Nice was a "soldier" of the group. It's the first claim of responsibility for an attack that claimed 84 lives at a July 14 fireworks display.
The claim -- circulated on social media by a news outlet affiliated with the group -- didn't name Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the 31-year-old Tunisian who authorities say was behind the wheel as a truck crashed into a crowd of revelers at a fireworks display on Thursday. But the statement quoting a security member of the group said the man was following calls from IS to target nationals of countries fighting it.
The veracity of the group's claim couldn't immediately be determined, but what is known so far about Bouhlel thus far suggests a troubled, angry man with little interest in the group's ultra-puritanical brand of Islam.
It's also unclear whether or not he was acting alone. The Paris prosecutor's office said Saturday that five people are in custody following the attack.
The Amaq news agency, which is linked to the Islamic State, cited an "insider source" in declaring that Bouhlel "was a soldier of the Islamic State."
"He executed the operation in response to calls to target citizens of coalition nations that fight the Islamic State," the news agency wrote.
Separately, the Islamic State's al-Bayan radio station said Bouhlel used "a new tactic" to wreak havoc.
"The crusader countries know that no matter how much they enforce their security measures and procedures, it will not stop the mujahideen from striking," the station said.
However, as The Washington Post reports, it remains unclear whether the militant group directed the attack, was taking responsibility for an assault it inspired or was simply seeking publicity from an event in which it had no direct hand.
"It seems" that the attacker, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, "radicalized his views very rapidly. These are the first elements that our investigation has come up with through interviews with his acquaintances," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Saturday, without offering details.Five people have been detained for questioning in the case.
"We are now facing individuals who are responding positively to the messages issued by the Islamic State without having had any special training and without having access to weapons that allow them to commit mass murder," Cazeneuve said.
Furthermore, as NBC News reports, claims that the Nice truck attacker was a radicalized Islamist just don't add up to at least one person who knew Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.
"He was not Muslim," a close friend of Bouhlel's ex-wife told NBC News. "He ate pork, he drank alcohol, he hit his wife. That is not Muslim."
Walid Hamou said the man that mowed down 84 people on the Nice promenade was no jihadist — just a violent individual with a nasty streak and nothing left to lose.
The first interaction Hamou had with the now infamous late father-of-three was telling, he said. "The first time I saw him I said hello and he didn't want to respond," Hamou recalled. "He didn't want to know me and I didn't want to know him either."
It wasn't like the two could avoid each other over the years: they lived in the same neighborhood in Nice. Hamou said that over time it became clear Bouhlel was more than just "really mean" -- he was dangerous.
"He hit his wife," Hamou claimed. "He hit his children when they are small -- kids who don't even walk yet and he hits them."
Hamou though scoffed at the idea Islam had anything to do with the attack: That wasn't the man he knew. He insisted that Bouhlel wasn't linked to any terror groups -- or even a practicing Muslim.
"He was not Islamic. He was not Muslim," Hamou stressed, getting agitated. "The guy went crazy... That's all."
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So what French President Francois Hollande called "undeniably terrorist in nature," was enacted by a pork-eating, wife-beating, alcoholic, petty-criminal, non-muslim, whose wife had left him, "had nothing else to lose," and "had been radicalized rapidly," into a Jihadi killing machine - 'confirmed' by ISIS.
And finally, apparently in response to the potential Jihad...
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called on patriotic Frenchmen and women to join up with the police reservists following the attack on the Mediterranean resort of Nice.
"I want to call on all French patriots who wish to do so, to join this operational reserve," Cazeneuve said.
Everyone who wanted to join the reservists would be able to, Cazeneuve said on Saturday.
There are currently 12,000 reservists in France recruited from the gendarmerie, a paramilitary force at the national level charged with police duties, and from the regular police. Cazeneuve envisages that the reservists could be mobilized at short notice to provide security at locations and events within police districts.