- Source revealed suspect Yassin Salhi sent a picture of himself posing with the victim's severed head on WhatsApp
- Herve Cornara - boss of the ATC-colicom in Chassieu - has been identified as the man beheaded in France on Friday
- Shocking attack took place at the headquarters of American-owned Air Products close to Lyon in southern France
- Police seized woman at home of ‘ISIS fanatic’ who beheaded boss and scrawled on his severed head in Arabic
- Alleged killer has been named as father of three Yassin Salhi, 35, with the victim believed to be his employer
- The company both men worked for is understood to have regularly delivered to the Air Products factory
By Elaine O'flynn For Mailonline
Published: 17:25 GMT, 27 June 2015 | Updated: 21:38 GMT, 27 June 2015
Herve Cornara was the boss at ATC-colicom in Chassieu, France. His severed head was found surrounded by ISIS flags on Friday
The ISIS fanatic accused of decapitating a French factory boss took a selfie with the severed head, it was revealed today.
A source close to the investigation said the photograph of Herve Cornara's head with suspect Yassin Salhi, 35, was sent via WhatsApp to a Canadian mobile phone number.
Investigators said it was not possible to fix the location of Salhi's contact, but it has been reported the recipient of the message was in Syria where ISIS has seized swaths of territory.
Conara's head was found pinned to the gates at the American-owned Air Products factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, surrounded by two Islamist flags, on Friday.
The victim was the boss at ATC-colicom in Chassieu - near the scene of yesterday's horrific execution - and ran his own business offering a delivery service. He had been strangled before he was decapitated.
On Saturday hundreds of people turned out in the region to honour Conara and denounce the violence, while dozens turned out for a minute of silence in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier.
Salhi, his wife and his sister remain in custody in Lyon in connection with his beheading, and for setting off the explosion at the Air Products gas factory in south-eastern France.
A spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor's office said Salhi is beginning to cooperate with police investigators, after initially refusing to talk.
A fourth suspect initially arrested on Friday has been released without charged.
Salhi was known to factory personnel because he came in regularly for deliveries, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said.
Police swooped on the apartment building in Saint-Priest, in the suburbs of the city of Lyon, just hours after the 35-year-old delivery driver was arrested on suspicion of writing Arabic slogans on his employer's severed head and hanging it on a fence outside the nearby headquarters of Air Products.
Salhi is accused of going on to crash his Ford Fusion delivery van through the factory's gates before ramming it into several large gas cannisters left in the car park - apparently in the hope they would explode and destroy the entire factory complex.
The explosions were relatively small, however, leaving just two factory workers with non life-threatening injuries.
The murdered man - who French media say owned the delivery company Salhi worked for - is believed to have been killed elsewhere before his corpse was dumped at the Air Products factory site in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier and his head impaled on a fence 30 feet away surrounded by homemade Islamist flags.
Speaking before the raid on her home, Salhi's wife described her husband as a 'normal Muslim' who left for work as usual at 7am this morning. 'My heart stopped when I heard he was a suspect....I expected him this afternoon,' the unnamed woman told French radio station Europe 1.
Salhi - who is understood to have been known to security services since at least 2006 - reportedly told arresting officers that he is a member of the Islamic State terror group. He is believed not to have a criminal record and an investigation into his 'possible radicalisation' was dropped in 2008.
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French President Francois Hollande, speaking in Brussels, said the attack began when a car crashed through the gate of the factory and ploughed into gas canisters, setting off an explosion.
'No doubt about the intention - to cause an explosion,' Mr Hollande said, calling the attack 'of a terrorist nature'.
His office said on Saturday that the President will convene a meeting to discuss the violent attack on Tuesday.
The victim's head was found staked on a gate at the factory's entrance, in what appeared to be an echo of the Islamic State group's practice of beheading prisoners and displaying their heads for all to see.
Decapitated: Herve Cornara is believed to have been killed elsewhere before his corpse was dumped at the Air Products factory site in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier and his head impaled on a fence 30 feet away surrounded by homemade Islamist flags with Arabic writing
Sickening: The victim's head (which MailOnline has chosen to disguise in this image) was found hanging on a fence near the factory's entrance. Two homemade Islamist flags - one white and one black, both with Arabic inscriptions - were found alongside it
Terror raid: French special forces escort an unidentified woman and child as they leave Yassin Salhi's apartment building today
Special forces from France's Research and Intervention Brigades leave Yassin Salhi's home with an unidentified woman today
A French special forces officer gestures as police escort a woman from a residential building during the raid in Saint-Priest
Special forces working for France's Research and Intervention Brigades enter Yassin Salhi's apartment building this afternoon
Murder scene: The murdered man's head is understood to have been found 30 feet away from his body, hanging on the factory's fence. The dead man's head was covered in Arabic 'inscriptions' before being placed on the fence, according to local journalists at the scene
Under cover: French police cordon off the area where the decapitated body was found at the Air Products headquarters
Location: The attack took place in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, close to the city of Lyon in the south east of France
An official said two flags - one white and one black, both with Arabic inscriptions - were found nearby. Images from the scene suggest the banners may have been homemade and written using paint.
At a press conference on Friday, Cazeneuve named the arrested man as Yassin Salhi.
'He was investigated in 2006 for radicalisation, but [the probe] was not renewed in 2008. He had no criminal record,' he added. 'This individual has links with the Salafist movement, but had not been identified as having participated in activities of a terrorist nature.'
A local newspaper is reporting that the unnamed dead man was Salhi's boss and that their company regularly delivered to Air Products.
Before this afternoon's raids at her home, an unnamed woman claiming to be Salhi wife has since spoke to the Europe1 radio station.
'I don't know what happened, he left to go to work as normal,' she said.
She said he was a delivery driver who left, as normal at 7am. 'My heart stopped when I heard he was a suspect,' she added. 'He went to work this morning at 7am. He does deliveries. He did not return between noon and two, I expected him this afternoon.
'My sister said turn on the television. She was crying... I know my husband. We have a normal family life. He goes to work, he comes back...We are normal Muslims. We do Ramadan. We have three children and a normal family life.'
Anti-terror police subsequently took the woman and her three children out of the apartment block in Saint Priest where she has been living with Salhi for the past six months.
Press conference: French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (pictured) named the arrested man as father-of-three Yassin Salhi, who is understood to have been known to security services since at least 2006
The attack was accompanied by several explosions caused by 'gas bombs' being ignited at the site, causing many of the injuries
Chaos: The attack took place at the headquarters of Air Products, in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, near Lyon, in the south east of the country. Local media reported that a 35-year-old man 'known to security services' has already been arrested at the scene
Lockdown: Local media reported that a 35-year-old man 'known to security services was arrested at the scene. Salhi is understood to have told arresting officers that he is a member of the Islamic State terror group
A French Gendarme blocks the access road to the Saint-Quentin-Fallavier industrial area, near Lyon in southern France
On alert: Heavily armed police officers were seen guarding the site of this morning's shocking terror attack
Investigators: Witnesses said that more than one man was involved in the attack and that the perpetrators were carrying Islamist flags
France's prime minister later branded the attack 'Islamist terrorism,' announcing he was cutting short a visit to South America to deal with the crisis.
'Islamist terrorism has hit France again,' Manuel Valls told a press conference in Colombia's capital Bogota, adding that he would take part by telephone in an emergency meeting called by President Francois Hollande, then rush back to France.
Within an hour of the attack, French President Francois Hollande was to return home early from an EU summit.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels shortly afterwards, Hollande said a man who launched a 'terrorist' assault on a gas factory Friday has been identified and that there may have been a second attacker. Local media reported that a second terrorist has since been arrested.
'This attack was in a vehicle driven by one person, perhaps accompanied by another,' Hollande added. 'The individual suspected of committing this attack has been arrested and identified.'
Local newspaper Dauphine Libere is reporting that a second person has now been arrested, believed to be the man who drove the Ford Fusion 'preview' car around the factory this morning before the attack.
Investigators are working to establish the full details of the attack but is widely thought that the explosions were intended to have a far bigger impact than causing several dozen injuries, and may have been intended to blow up the entire Air Products headquarters.
Salhi had a 'link' to Salafist movement, Cazeneuve said but was not implicated in any terrorist activities. The Salafi movement is a group within Sunni Islam, which is often associated with literalist approaches to Islam.
He said a 'fiche S' was opened on the attacker in 2006 for radicalisation. A 'fiche S' for which the S stands for 'Sûreté d'etat' basically means he had been identified as a possible danger and should be watched.
The file was not renewed in 2008, however, meaning authorities no longer considered him a risk. Cazeneuve also said the man named as Yassin Sali had no criminal record. He added that the suspect is believed to be father of three children.
He was known for links to extremism but not identified as a high risk who would carry out an attack, says Cazeneuve.
ATTACK AT AIR PRODUCTS HEADQUARTERS COMES JUST FIVE MONTHS AFTER CHARLIE HEBDO MASSACRE
The attack comes five months after three Islamist gunmen killed 17 people in coordinated terror strikes across Paris.
The victims, including journalists and police, were killed in three days of violence, including a mass shooting at the weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo, known for its satirical attacks on Islam and other religions.
The attackers, two French-born brothers of Algerian origin, singled out the magazine for its publication of cartoons depicting and ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad.
The bloodshed ended on January 9 with a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket in which four hostages and the gunman were killed. The terror chief behind the murders was killed in a drone attack in Yemen earlier this month.
Nasser al-Wuhayshi was once a loyal deputy to Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks on the USA in 2001.
Last month, the senior AQAP commander who admitted responsibility for the Hebdo attacks was also blasted to death by a drone.
Nasr al-Ansi caused outage in January when he gloated over the murders by France-born Islamists.
Two of them – brothers Said and Cherif Koachi – both said they were working for AQAP.
The Kouachi brothers and a third terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, were themselves killed by police following sieges which also saw four Jewish people shot dead in a Kosher supermarket in eastern Paris.
Al-Ansi, who was also close to the late terror chief Osama Bin Laden, had called for more attacks in countries including Britain, America and France saying 'lone-wolf' attacks were 'better and more harmful'.
Emergency personnel work at the scene of a suspected Islamist attack, outside a factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier in southern France
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls ordered heightened security measures Friday at 'sensitive sites' near the gas factory that was attacked in eastern France
The president of Air Products - an American owned company that is understood to have recently signed a large contract with Saudi Arabia - is an Iranian Shia Muslim named Seifi Ghasemi (pictured)
The president of Air Products - an American owned company that is understood to have recently signed a large contract with Saudi Arabia - is an Iranian Shia Muslim named Seifi Ghasemi.
Iran is known to support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria - the sworn enemy of the Islamic State terror group.
There remains a great deal of confusion over the exact sequence of events at the factory., which belongs to Air Products - a US chemical company based in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The company would not confirm whether any employees were injured or killed.
'Our priority at this stage is to take care of our employees, who have been evacuated from the site and all accounted for,' the company said in a statement.
'The site is secure. Our crisis and emergency response teams have been activated and are working closely with all relevant authorities.'
The company added that all its employees are accounted for after an attack on a factory in southwestern France. It has not confirmed whether its staff were among the two people reported injured and one dead.
It released a statement that all employees have been evacuated from the site, which is secure.
It says 'our crisis and emergency response teams have been activated and are working closely with all relevant authorities.'
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls ordered heightened security measures Friday at 'sensitive sites' near the gas factory that was attacked in eastern France.
Valls, who is on an official trip to South America, asked Cazeneuve to head to Saint-Quentin Fallavier, the site of the attack, the premier's entourage said.
Mr Valls said 1,573 French nationals or people resident in France were 'listed as being implicated in terrorist networks.' Of these, 442 were believed to be fighting in Syria, where 97 have died.
PROFILE: SEIFI GHASEMI - THE IRAN-BORN PRESIDENT OF AMERICAN-OWNED AIR PRODUCTS
Born in Iran in 1944 and a US citizen since 1982, Ghasemi attended the Abadan Institute of Technology where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in General Engineering. He then moved to the United States where he received his Masters degree from Stanford University in California.
After conducting research in Fluidics at Stanford, he was employed by the Lear Motor Company before a three year spell as assistant professor at the University in Tehran. In 1974 Ghasemi joined the newly formed National Iranian Steel Industries Company, and three years later became executive director.
In 1979, he emigrated to the United States where he joined BOC's Carbon Division. He moved to its US gases business in 1987, becoming its president in 1993. In June of this year, Ghasemi added to this role world-wide responsibility for the Group's Process Plants business.
Ghasemi is Vice Chairman of the Compressed Gases Association and on the Board of Directors of the National Petroleum Refiners Association. He has one son, Robert, and lives in Gladstone, N.J., with his wife Ellen. His outside interests include running, skiing and opera.
The BOC Group, the parent company of BOC Gases, is a world leader in industrial gases, health care, vacuum technologies and distribution services. The BOC Group operates in more than 60 countries with sales last year of $5.9 billion.
Blocked: French police secure the entrance of the Air Products company in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, near Lyon this morning
Barrier: A French Gendarme blocks the access road to the Saint-Quentin-Fallavier industrial area following the terror attack
Scene: France has been on its highest security alert ever since the Paris attacks and according an internal security services source 'all the signals in recent weeks have been pointing to red for an attack of this nature occurring in the national territory'
The murdered man's head is understood to have been found 30 feet away from his body, hanging on a fence
The Mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppé, took to Twitter to condemn the attacks.
'The terrorist threat is at a maximum', he wrote, adding that France 'must make every effort to protect its citizens'.
British Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his sympathies over the incident to French President Francois Hollande.
The two leaders spoke in Brussels, where they are attending a European Council summit.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: 'He expressed his sympathies for what looks like an appalling incident.
'Details are still emerging, so we wait to see those. But it clearly looks an extremely concerning situation and our thoughts are with all those affected by it.'
The Government's emergency Cobra committee will meet this afternoon following terror attacks in France and Tunisia, David Cameron said as he offered 'our solidarity in fighting this evil of terrorism'.
France has been on its highest security alert ever since the Paris attacks and according to the Dauphiné Libéré, an internal security services source said that 'all the signals in recent weeks have been pointing to red for an attack of this nature occurring in the national territory.'
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