PARIS, A man facing terror charges for beheading his boss at a French gas plant this summer committed suicide in jail, authorities said Wednesday.
Yassin Salhi was arrested in the June attack on an Air Products plant in Saint-Quentin Fallavier in southeastern France. Investigators say he decapitated his boss and then sent a “selfie” of him posing with the body to a friend and suspected militant in Syria.
Tuesday, while behind bars at Fleury-Mérogis Prison, officials say Salhi hanged himself.
The suicide of Salhi, who was a delivery truck driver with alleged Islamist ties, has upset relatives of the victim, Hervé Cornara.
“His death is a complete non-respect to the victims,” attorney Samia Maktouf, who has represented two dozen terror victims in France in the last two years, said. “He killed himself deliberately to carry out a second terrorist attack on himself.”
According to investigators, Salhi persuaded Cornara, 54, to get in his delivery van on June 26. Once inside, he was knocked unconscious, strangled and then decapitated, police said. Salhi then allegedly placed his former boss’ head on a fence at the plant alongside two jihadist banners.
Authorities said Salhi, 35, also attempted to trigger an explosion at the factory, near the town of Lyon, by colliding gas canisters — but the attempt failed. Two others were injured in the attack.
Salhi was able to gain access to the factory because he was a recent employee there, but was fired in June by Cornara. Air Products is a Pennsylvania-based chemical company.
Salhi had been known to French police since 2006, when they suspected ties to a radical group, and investigators now believe he was tied to the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS).
“In the culture of ISIS, he becomes a martyr,” Makhtouf added. “I am angry because he was allowed to do this. We still don’t understand the death culture, which is at the heart of this fanaticism.”
By Doug G. Ware