(New York, N.Y.) — The trial of eight defendants accused of providing support to Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel began this week in Paris. Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was a Tunisian resident of France who killed 86 people and injured 450 others when he drove a semi-truck through a crowded sidewalk in Nice, France on Bastille Day in 2016. Prosecutors allege that the seven men and one woman supported the attack by helping Louhaiej-Bouhlel secure weapons, rent the truck used in the attack, and scout the attack location. Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was shot and killed on site by police.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack two days after it was perpetrated, stating Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was “one of the soldiers of the Islamic State.” Prior to the attack, Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was not known to French intelligence services as a person with ties to ISIS or as someone who posed a terrorist threat, according to French prosecutors. In subsequent investigations, police discovered ISIS-related propaganda on Lahouaiej-Bouhlel’s personal computer.
To read CEP’s resource Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, please click here.
The attack in Nice and other violent attempts have highlighted France’s ongoing struggles to monitor terrorism suspects throughout the country. According to 2016 estimates, there were over 15,000 terrorism suspects in France of which 1,300 to 1,900 traveled to fight in Iraq and Syria. The figure represented the largest source of Western fighters to the conflict zone. The country also suffers from a major radicalization problem within its prisons, where an estimated 1,400 inmates are believed to be radicalized.
To read CEP’s resource France: Extremism and Terrorism, please click here.
To read CEP’s resource ISIS, please click here.