Update: This article has been updated with information about the suspected attacker in France.
Three terrorist attacks were carried out this morning in France, Kuwait, and Tunisia.
At least one terrorist attacked an Air Products factory outside of Lyon, France. Air Products’ headquarters is in the US. One victim was beheaded on the scene and press accounts say that an Islamist black flag (also described as the same flag used by the Islamic State) was found with the corpse.
According to initial reports, the victim has been identified as a local businessman.
In addition to the beheading, there was also an explosion at the Air Products facility. French authorities subsequently arrested a deliveryman named Yassin Sahli, identifying him as the main suspect in the Air Products attack. According to France 24, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve “said that although Sahli had no criminal record, he had been placed under surveillance from 2006 to 2008 over his suspected ties to radical Islamists.”
In Tunisia, at least 27 people were killed at a beach frequented by tourists in the town of Sousse. The Tunisian government says that most of the victims were tourists.
Tunisia’s tourist locations have long been targeted by jihadists. In October 2013, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside of the Riadh Palm hotel in Sousse. No one, other than the terrorist himself, was killed. In March, gunmen assaulted the Bardo Museum in Tunis, killing more than 20 people. Most of the victims were identified as being tourists, predominately from Western countries. The Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for the massacre, but Tunisian authorities have also pointed the finger at the Uqba Ibn Nafi Brigade, which is part of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
If the death toll is accurate, then today’s attack in Tunisia is the deadliest in that country’s history.
Separately, a suicide bomber struck the Imam Sadiq Mosque in Kuwait City. The mosque is a place of worship for Shiites. Casualty figures vary in the early reporting.
The Islamic State’s so-called Najd Province has claimed responsibility for the bombing in an audio message and a written statement released online. The written statement, which can be seen on the right, follows the same format as previous messages.
According to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, the Islamic State province claims the mosque is a “malicious den” and “a known platform in the war on Tawhid [monotheism] and its people…from which polytheism is spread and support is given to the Party of Satan [Hezbollah].”
In late May, the same arm of the Islamic State sent a suicide bomber into a Shiite mosque in Qatif, which is Saudi Arabia’s predominantly Shiite eastern province. More than 20 people were killed in that bombing.
The Islamic State has also struck Shiite mosques in Yemen. The mosque attacks are part of the organization’s deliberate strategy to stoke sectarian conflict throughout the Middle East.
In an audio message released earlier this week, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al Adnani called for a surge of attacks during the holy month of Ramadan. Adnani also called on Sunnis to wage a sectarian war against Shiites.
Adnani said the Shiites “are advancing towards you” and “your war with them is undoubtedly approaching.” Adnani called on Sunnis to “either march forth” and “drive” the Shiites “back, or remain asleep and wake up to what the people of Iraq, Sham [Syria], and Yemen awoke to of killing, imprisonment, exile, the destruction of their homes, the looting of their wealth, and the violation of their women.”
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