Allentown, Pennsylvania-based gas company Air Products & Chemicals Inc. had one of its French factories subject to a terrorist attack by apparent Islamic fundamentalists, leaving one dead, two injured and causing an explosion which severely damaged the facility.
The factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, which represented Air Products’ French headquarters, was attack on Friday morning by Yassin Salhi, a 35-year old truck driver apparently linked with radical Islamic groups. Salhi gained access to factory grounds with a delivery truck, then beheaded his unidentified employer whom he was holding hostage and stuck his head on a factory fence together with Islamic flags. He then proceeded to ram the truck into gas cylinders, setting off an explosion which injured two workers.
Fortunately, Air Products recorded no other casualties or injuries amongst its employees at the factory. CEO Seifi Ghasemi offered condolences to the victim’s family in a press release on Friday, while also emphasizing the need of upping security at the company’s other facilities. Another statement released later by the company confirmed that precautionary measures were taken at all of its global facilities.
Air Products has over 750 factories throughout 50 countries, employing a total of over 21.000 people worldwide. This makes it the third employer in the Lehigh Valley metropolitan area and also one of the two companies in the area listed in the Fortune 500.
The attack was spoken of at a European Union summit in Brussels, where French president Francois Hollande gave a summary of the incident and deemed it as a terrorist attacks. Southeastern France will have its security alert level at its highest until Tuesday.
Islamist groups have yet to take responsibility for the attack, adding the possibility of Salhi acting as a lone wolf, a form of terrorism which has gradually become more popular in the last few years. The methods he used though – decapitation and sticking the head on a pike – are similar practices to those of the Islamic State. The head apparently was covered in a cloth inscribed with the Islamic creed Shahada on it, stating “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God”.
The French police knew of Salhi’s ties with radical groups as early as 2006, as he was under surveillance as a member of a jihadist Salafi movement. This stopped in 2008, but the 35-year old was also allegedly involved in an attack on a Jewish teen on a Toulouse-Lyon train in 2015.
Image Source: Daily Mail