Although no link has yet been confirmed between the terrorist implicated in the truck attack in Nice, France, and the Islamic State, the attacker’s uncle has said his nephew was radicalized just two weeks ago by an Algerian ISIS member.
Sadok Bouhlel, Mohamed Lahouaiyej Bouhlel’s uncle, said Mohamed’s family troubles with his wife and children left him open and vulnerable to indoctrination, The Associated Press reports.
ISIS has already claimed responsibility for the terror attack perpetrated by Mohamed Bouhlel, but French authorities haven’t been able to establish any definitive links between Bouhlel and ISIS.
That family estrangement apparently allowed the Algerian ISIS member the in he needed to twist Mohamed’s mind. According to Sadok Bouhlel, the Algerian “found in Mohamed an easy prey for recruitment.”
Following his contact with the Algerian, Mohamed was rapidly radicalized, which came off as strange to his friends and family.
“Mohamed didn’t pray, didn’t go to the mosque and ate pork,” Sadok told The Associated Press in Tunisia.
But not everyone is as convinced as Sadok that Mohamed’s radicalization occurred in a span of just two weeks.
“This is someone who was already deeply disturbed and had already been on a journey, and at the end of it, maybe there was what looks like a rapid process of radicalization,” Dr. Raj Persaud, a consultant psychiatrist, said. “But that was just what crystallized his beliefs, a lot of the huge transformation had already occurred in the background,” he said.
ISIS media arm Amaq Agency declared Saturday the attacks last week to be the group’s work. Bouhlel apparently managed to slip under the radar unnoticed, as he didn’t seem to make any public militant statements.
Since the attacks, the government of French President Francois Hollande has suffered major criticism for failing to clamp down on Islamic radicalism.
Even former President Nicolas Sarkozy bashed the government for not recognizing France is locked in a total war with ISIS.
“Everything that should have been done over the past 18 months was not done,” Sarkozy said on TF1 television Sunday night, according to The Associated Press. “We are in war, a total war. Our enemies don’t have no taboos, no borders, no principles. So I will use strong words: It will be us or them.”
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