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Nice massacre was planned for months with accomplices

One accomplice filmed the scene the day after the event.

Image: Claude Paris

NICE TRUCK ATTACKER Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel had long plotted the carnage that killed 84 people, prosecutor Francois Molins said last night, with the assistance of five suspects who have been formally charged.

A week after Bouhlel rammed a truck into a crowd which had been enjoying a Bastille Day fireworks display, killing 84 people, Molins said photos on his phone showed he had likely already staked out the event in 2015.

It also emerged that one of the five suspects in custody, a Tunisian named Mohamed Oualid G., had filmed the scene of the crime the day after the carnage, as it crawled with paramedics and journalists.

The five suspects were brought before anti-terrorism judges late last night and charged.

They are 22-year-old Franco-Tunisian Ramzi A, 37-year-old Tunisian Chokri C, 40-year-old Tunisian Mohamed Oualid G, 38-year-old Albanian Artan H, and his wife Enkeledja Z who holds both French and Albanian nationality.

France Truck Attack Flowers, teddy bears and a baby doll are placed near the site of the attack. Source: Francois Mori

None of the suspects were known to intelligence services, and only Ramzi A, who was born in Nice, had a criminal record for robbery and drug offences.

This suspect led police to discover a Kalashnikov and a bag of ammunition, however the purpose of the weapons was unclear.

Ramzi, Chokri and Oualid were charged with being accomplices to murder by a terror group. Ramzi and the Albanian couple faced a second charge, of breaking the law on firearms in relation to a terrorist crime.

The three latter suspects are accused of providing Bouhlel with the gun he fired at police officers before he was shot dead.

All five have been remanded in custody.

“A soldier”

France Truck Attack Source: Claude Paris

While the Islamic State group claimed the attack, describing Bouhlel as a “soldier”, investigators have not found direct proof of his allegiance to the jihadists.

Many people interviewed by investigators described the Tunisian father of three as “someone who did not practise the Muslim religion, ate pork, drank alcohol, took drugs and had an unbridled sexual activity”, Molins said earlier this week.

However initial details of the investigation revealed that he had been fascinated with jihad for a while.

On 26 May last year, he took a photo of an article about the drug Captagon, an amphetamine used by jihadists in Syria.

‘I am not Charlie’

France Truck Attack Source: Claude Paris

In July 2015 he took photos of the crowd at the Bastille Day fireworks display, as well as another crowd watching a concert on the Promenade Des Anglais three days later.

On 4 April this year, Chokri C sent Bouhlel a Facebook message reading: “Load the truck with 2,000 tonnes of iron…release the brakes my friend and I will watch”.

Molins said the two Mohameds contacted each other 1,278 times between July 2015 and July 2016.

Investigators also found a text message in Bouhlel’s phone from Mohamed Oualid on January 10 2015 – roughly a year after attacks on the Charlie Hebdo weekly which spawned the hashtag “I am Charlie” in support of those killed.

I am not Charlie … I am happy they have brought soldiers of Allah to finish the job.

Analyses of Bouhlel’s computer and cellphone showed a wide-range of images and internet searches showing a fascination with violence and jihadist movements such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

His family and friends have described him as violent and possibly suffering from mental illness.

© AFP 2016

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