The attack that left Nice shaken during Bastille Day celebrations had been planned for months with help from accomplices, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins revealed on Thursday.
On 14 July, numerous French residents and foreigners were gathered along the Promenade des Anglais to watch the fireworks when man authorities identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, deliberately drove his 20-ton truck through the waterfront, toppling over any individual who was not quick enough to jump out of his path. Police finally managed to stop the man when they shot him until he died. 84 people were killed in the incident with much more severely injured.
Molins stated that authorities are in the process of investigating five suspects, who are currently in custody on charges of terror about the attack. One of the suspects allegedly sent Bouhlel a Facebook message instructing to load the truck with tons of iron and to meddle with the brakes. It ended with the sender saying “I’ll look brother.”
Bouhlel’s estranged wife and mother of his three children were also arrested in connection with the attack. She was later released without charges on an account that she and her late husband had not been in contact with one another since they were in the middle of a divorce.
The analysis authorities had conducted on the content of Bouhlel’s devices showed he had been planning the attack since at least last year. The content on his cellphone revealed information on a drug called Captago, which is an amphetamine that can spark energy and induce a sense of euphoric elevation. Reports say Jihadist fighters sometimes use this medicine.
According to CNN, Molins gave a statement at a news conference saying that investigations into the incident have progressed, and authorities have, “not only confirmed the premeditated murderous nature of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel’s act but also established that he benefited from support and accomplices.”
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 21, 2016
Warning message from beyond the grave
Authorities had found an audio message that Bouhlel allegedly recorded at 5 p.m. on the day of the attacks that mentioned the names of two of the detainees Chokri and Walid, saying that the former and his friends are “ready for next month,” according to an article published by the Mirror.
Furthermore, at 10:27 p.m., just before Bouhlel went on his reckless rampage through the waterfront, he allegedly sent a text message to Ramzi A. talking about the firearm he procured, and he added he intended to obtain five more from Ramzi’s girlfriend.
Ramzi A. is another one of the five who have been placed in custody; he has been indicted for arms offenses in association with terrorism. Furthermore, an Albanian couple, Artan H,38, and Enkeledgia Z, 42, have also been detained on account of supplying the gun Bouhlel used to retaliate at shooting police officers during the attack.
It is strange that the suspect would announce his plans for the attack and a possible future one via traceable and indiscreet means of communication such as audio recordings, text and Facebook messages. Possibly it was deliberate for authorities to be aware that the attack was indeed in the name of the Islamic State. Possibly it was poor judgment. Possibly, these sudden clues are a little too convenient.