A Tunisian terrorist sent his family a selfie in front of the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice and sat next to worshipers for 30 minutes before launching Thursday’s bloody attack.
The 21-year-old Brahim Aoussaoui arrived in Europe just a few weeks before the killing spree on Thursday and slaughtered three people in the church with a foot-length knife.
His relatives spoke at their home in the Tunisian town of Bouhajla, where he had previously lived, and said the 21-year-old had contacted them since arriving in France.
According to his family, the attacker even sent them a photo of Notre Dame Cathedral before killing the three victims.
Aoussaoui’s brother Yacine told Al Arabiya, an Arab media company, that his brother would spend the night in front of the cathedral.
“He sent me a picture of it,” he said.
His family said, “What we saw in the pictures is him, our son.”
“What we saw in the pictures is him, our son,” said the family.
Three worshipers were killed in the rampage when Aoussaoui stormed the church in Nice and was later neutralized by police officers who shot him.
He survived, despite being shot 14 times by police, and is armed and guarded in a secure hospital wing.
On the day of the attack, CCTV revealed that he arrived at the church at 8:30 a.m. and sat inside for almost half an hour.
The attacker was also shown grinning after arriving in Italy before being “released from custody to slaughter three in Nice”.
A security source told the newspaper Le Parisien that Aoussaoui had followed the “classic migration route” from North Africa to Europe and arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa in a small boat on September 20.
“The young man was suspected of contracting Covid-19 and was placed in solitary confinement on a ship,” the source said.
According to the source, Aoussaoui should have been detained prior to deportation after disembarking on 9 October in the port of Bari without papers and with health problems.
However, the authorities were unable to confirm the identity of the killer and he was released.
He made his way to Nice and traveled by train in a way that did not alert the officers.
People on board the ship to Italy later said Aoussaoui spent most of the time on the phone, reports the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
The Italian interior minister said on Friday that the Italian government was in no way to blame for allowing Aoussaoui to enter Europe.
Luciana Lamorgese confirmed that neither the Tunisian authorities nor the Italian secret service had identified Aouissaoui as a potential threat.
“We have no responsibility for it,” she told reporters.
In the meantime, the Tunisian authorities have launched an investigation into whether a group called the Mahdi Organization exists and carried out the attack in Nice based on social media claims, state news agency TAP reported on Friday.
It was also revealed on Friday that Aoussaoui had been arrested in 2016 for violence and the use of a knife, according to an official from the Tunisian judiciary.
Sacristan Vincent Loquès, 54, launched the bloody attack in Nice Thursday morning and had his throat cut as he prepared for the first mass of the day while a woman was found partially beheaded near the holy water stoup.
Loquès, a father of two, was the sacristan of the building, an official in charge of looking after the church.
Parishioners praised him as a man who loved his church and said: “He has helped, he has served, he has given,” reports Nizza-Matin.
He is said to have prepared the church for the upcoming All Saints Day on Sunday when he was attacked by the knife man.
Brazilian-born Simone Barreto Silva, 44, escaped the church slaughter and ran to a nearby cafe where she died of her injuries after telling paramedics, “Tell my children I love them. ”
“She crossed the street full of blood,” said Brahim Jelloule, manager of the Unik café.
Jelloule said his brother, who was working in the cafe at the time, and a clerk saw Silva and took her inside.
“At first they couldn’t understand anything. She was still talking, she said that someone was in the church, ”Jelloule said in an interview with the French TV channel.
Silva moved to France as a young woman and, according to her Facebook profile, studied at Nice Sophia Antipolis University.
She trained as a cook, but recently worked as a nursing assistant, French media reported.
Elsewhere, there were at least three other incidents when French President Emmanuel Macron described his country as “under attack”.
In Avignon, a far-right knife man was also shot dead by police officers and a security guard stabbed at the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia when France was rocked by a day of violence.
It was reported that a knife man was caught near a church in Paris after telling his family he wanted to copy the attack in Nice, while another man was arrested while cutting into one with a 12-inch knife wanted to get off the armed tram.
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In Nice, residents mourned the victims of the second attack in the Mediterranean city in recent years.
In July 2016, a militant drove a truck through a seaside crowd to celebrate Bastille Day, killing 86 people.
On Friday, people gathered in front of Notre Dame Church to lay flowers and light candles.
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