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Jun 26, 2015 | 12:18 GMT

France: Analyzing The French Chemical Factory Attack

One person was killed and at least two were injured in a terrorist attack on a factory in southeastern France on June 26. According to early reports, at least one man — Yacine Sahi — entered a gas factory by car in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, southeast of Lyon, around 10:00 a.m. local time. The man allegedly drove the car into compressed gas canisters, setting off an explosion. A decapitated body was found nearby. The alleged attacker was arrested, but French authorities admitted there could have been a second man in the car. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that Sahi, believed to be of North African origin, was linked to a Salafist movement and had been identified as potentially dangerous in 2006 but had not been implicated in any terrorist activities.

According to French media, the Rayat al-Uqab flag, which is used by several groups including al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State, was found at the site. Following his arrest, Sahi even allegedly claimed to be a member of the Islamic State. French President Francois Hollande said the attack was "of a terrorist nature," and announced that an emergency meeting of the Defense Council will be held later today. French Prime Minister Manual Valls said the French government has further tightened security measures on "sensitive" sites.

Alain Chabrolles, vice president of the Rhones-Alpes Regional Council, said the gas factory works with several chemicals, none of which are particularly dangerous. The official said that other factories in the region deal with more dangerous materials and that the attacker did not choose a particularly sensitive factory. The attack in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier occurred nearly six months after the terrorist attacks that killed 17 people in and around Paris.

This appears to be the type of simple attack associated with the leaderless resistance operational model that both al Qaeda and the Islamic State have embraced. The presence of the Rayat al-Uqab flag is not a smoking gun of itself, because of its use by various groups, but the presence of a severed head could indicate sympathies with the Islamic State organization, which routinely uses decapitation for punishment and shock value. Individuals associated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were behind the Charlie Hebdo operation, and one of the attackers — who killed a police officer before attacking a kosher Deli in Paris had proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State.

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