Terrorist attack targets French headquarters of Air Products and Chemicals

Air Products and Chemicals Inc. a gas company based out of Allentown, Pennsylvania had one of its factories in France subjected to an attack by terrorists, apparently Islamic fundamentalists. The attack resulted in two people being injured and one dead in the aftermath of an explosion that damaged the facility severely.

The Saint-Quentin-Fallavier factory is the French headquarters of Air Products and one Yassin Salhi, a truck driver aged 35 with apparent links to the radical Islamic groups attacked the facility on Friday morning. A delivery truck provided access to Salhi and he beheaded his hostage and unidentified employer. He then stuck the head of the dead man to fence in the factory along with Islamic flags. Thereafter he rammed the truck into gas cylinders triggering an explosion and injuring two workers.

Fortunately, no other injuries or causalities were recorded at Air Products among its employees at the facility. On Friday, Seifi Ghasemi, the CEO offered condolence to the victim’s family in his press release.  He also emphasized the need to augment security at the other facilities of the company.  In another statement that was released later, the company also confirmed that precautionary measures have been put in place at all its global facilities.

Air Products employs more than 21,000 people across the globe and has 750 factories spanning 50 countries.  In the metropolitan area of Lehigh Valley, it is also the third employer and one out of the two Fortune 500 companies in the region.

In Brussels, the attack was mentioned at summit of the European Union and summary of the event was given by Francois Hollande, the French President deeming the incident as an attack by terrorists.  Until Tuesday, Southeastern France will also have its level of security alert at the highest.

Islamist groups are yet to own responsibility for this attack and that added the possibility that Salhi was acting like a lone wolf, a latent form of terrorism that is gaining popularity gradually over the last couple of years. The method used by him – ‘sticking the head on a pike and decapitation’ – resonate practices of the Islamic State. The head was covered apparently in a cloth with inscription of Shahad, the Islamic creed on it and said “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God”.

As long back as 2006, the ties Salhi had with radical elements was known to the French Police and he was kept under surveillance as a member of the Jihadist movement Salafi. However, the surveillance was taken off in 2008 and Salhi was allegedly involved in attacking a Jewish teen in 2015 on a Toulouse-Lyon train.