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French terror suspect 'sent image of beheading to Syria'

A French forensic team on the site where the severed head of the victim was found, 26 June 2015
A French forensic team on the site where the severed head of the victim was found, 26 June 2015 Reuters/Ruben Sprich

The suspect in the attack on an industrial chemical plant in southeastern France has confessed and was to be transferred to Paris Sunday for further questioning by anti-terror police. Meanwhile, a legal source told French news agency AFP on Sunday that Yassin Salhi, 35, had sent a selfie of the beheading to someone in Syria through an online messaging service.

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Canadian authorities had been assisting in the investigation after it emerged that Salhi had sent the image to a Canadian phone number. But officials had warned that the WhatsApp message could have been sent to a relay number and that the intended recipient could be anywhere in the world.

Salhi, a deliveryman and married father, drove his van into the American-owned Air Products factory near Lyon on Friday in what President Francois Hollande has described as a "terrorist" attack designed to blow up the building.

After a blast that damaged the warehouse and destroyed the roof and back of the vehicle, police discovered the severed head of Salhi’s boss, 54-year-old Herve Cornara, attached to the gates of the plant near two flags that prosecutors say had the Muslim profession of faith written on them.

He was overpowered by a firefighter on the scene and arrested.

The assault came six months after the Islamist attacks in and around Paris that killed 17 people starting with a shooting at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Salhi had been known to security services for a number of years and had been investigated for links to radical Salafists.

A memorial was held Saturday for Cornora, 54, in his hometown Fontaines-sur-Saône.

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