Yet Another 'Known Wolf': France's Beheading Terrorist Was Well-Known By Authorities, But No Action Was Taken

Yassin Salhi, the suspect in a beheading at a factory owned by an American company near Lyon, France, had been known to authorities for his connections to the Salafist networks in the area since 2006.


Reports indicate that authorities were well-aware of his increased radicalization over the past two years.

The victim appears to be Salhi’s former employer:

Here’s a rough timeline of events related to the attack, via Le Monde and France24:

  • A person rammed a car into the premises of a factory owned by U.S. company Air Products in the town of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, triggering an explosion.
  • Police have said a decapitated head was found at the site, along with a flag bearing Arabic writing, although there was uncertainty about how the man was decapitated and where. The head was also covered in Arabic writing, according to authorities and media reports.
  • The attacker got out of the car to go into the factory and attempt to cause more explosions.
  • Firefighters arrived to hear him shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (Allah is great)
  • They managed to surround him and keep him there until police arrived to arrest him.

French President François Hollande said that this was a terrorist attack:

The plant is owned by an American company, Air Products:


Here is a map locating the village near Lyon where the attack took place:

Salhi’s contacts with French authorities go back to 2006:

BRTL-France notes that French security service DGSE had two notes from May 2014 noting Salhi’s increased radicalization and a “brutal” change in his appearance, along with two of his friends. They reportedly wanted to create an Islamic institute in Besançon:

As regular readers of PJ Media will recall, since last year I’ve been reporting on what I’ve termed the “known wolf” terrorism problem: when terror suspects are already known to law enforcement authorities prior to committing an attack.

Here’s a recap of my “known wolf” terror reporting:

Oct. 24, 2014: ‘Lone Wolf’ or ‘Known Wolf’: The Ongoing Counter-Terrorism Failure

Dec. 15, 2014: Sydney Hostage Taker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Jan. 7, 2015: Paris Terror Attack Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Feb. 3, 2015: French Police Terror Attacker Yesterday Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Feb. 15, 2015: Copenhagen Killer Was yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Feb. 26, 2015: Islamic State Beheader ‘Jihadi John’ Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Apr. 22, 2015: Botched Attack on Paris Churches Another Case of “Known Wolf” Terrorism

May 4, 2015: Texas Attack Is Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism


This was also the subject of a Capitol Hill briefing I gave back in late January sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET):

I discussed “known wolves” in this interview with my colleague Erick Stakelbeck at CBN News. You can watch that video on the next page.

With three “known wolf” terror attacks in France in just the past six months, beginning with the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January, expect to see more questions there on why “known wolf” terrorism is becoming an even greater phenomenon.

(Also see Michael Walsh’s coverage of the attack here at PJ Media.)


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