A 35-year-old man who allegedly carried out a terrorist attack near Lyon, France, in June was found dead in his jail cell on Dec. 22.
Yassin Salhi crashed his delivery truck into a chemical factory and beheaded his boss before being detained by police June 26, media reports said.
Salhi hung the head of 54-year-old Herve Cornara on the railings outside the Air Products factory alongside two Islamic flags. He then took a photo of himself posing next to it and sent it to a friend fighting in Syria, The Guardian reported.
He was being kept in solitary confinement on charges of committing a terrorist attack. He was found dead Dec. 22 after hanging himself at Fleury-Merogis prison south of Paris, according to Daily Mail.
Salhi gained access to the Air Products site because co-workers recognized him as one of the usual delivery drivers. But after being let through the gates, he crashed his vehicle into a building containing flammable canisters, before attempting to trigger an explosion at another location.
French President Francois Hollande ordered stepped-up security measures and made clear he believed Salhi was motivated by Islamic extremism.
“We have no doubt that the attack was to blow up the building,” said Hollande, reports BBC. “It bears the hallmarks of a terrorist attack.”
The father of three always insisted that Islamist terrorism had not motivated him. He alleged instead that he had a dispute with Cornara.
Salhi’s wife, who was also detained in the aftermath of the attack, did not accept the claim Salhi was a terrorist.
“We have a normal family life,” she told Europe 1 radio.
French intelligence revealed Salhi was under surveillance as early as 2006 due to suspected connections with Islamic extremist elements. He had never been charged with a terrorism-related crime.
Cornara’s widow, Laurence, was unhappy at the news of Salhi’s death.
“I was waiting with impatience to find myself face to face with him [in court], to look him in the eye. He was a coward and he would be a coward to the end,” she said, according to The Guardian.