ISLAMIC STATE (ISIS) has today claimed responsibility for carrying out the Nice truck terror attack which left at least 84 people dead.
The jihadi group claimed it had carried out the massacre in the southern French city in a statement released by its Amaq News Agency media arm this morning.
At least 84 people were killed and hundreds more injured when gunman Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove an articulated truck into crowds watching a Bastille Day firework display on Thursday night.
In its statement the group said the attack was carried out by a “soldier of the Islamic State” in response to its calls to target innocent civilians.
The statement read: “The person who carried out the operation in Nice, France, to run down people was one of the soldiers of Islamic State.
“He carried out the operation in response to calls to target nationals of states that are part of the coalition fighting Islamic State.”
ISIS has urged its members to carry out atrocities in countries which are part of a US-led coalition, including Britain and France, which is carrying out airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
Its supporters had already been openly celebrating the massacre on social media, where they posted gloating images hailing the slaughter of “crusaders”.
The statement claiming responsibility has been launched more than 36 hours after the attack took place on the famous Promenade des Anglais, on the Mediterranean seafront of the southern French city.
Jihadi chiefs have specifically called on global followers to carry out attacks against France, which has been one of the leading members of the coalition and has vowed to redouble its efforts to smash the terror group following the Nice atrocity.
The statement comes as anti-terror police in France arrested three people in connection with the attack and continued to question Bouhlel’s estranged wife over his potential motives.
However, it will be treated with a huge degree of caution by police and security services as ISIS has frequently attempted to claim responsibility for attacks it appears to have had no links to.
In particular the delayed nature of the statement and the lack of any accompanying propaganda – such as the group’s infamous ‘martyrdom videos where jihadis explain their motives to the camera before carrying out atrocities – suggest the group is retrospectively claiming credit rather than being involved in the planning.
Ordinarily for a lone wolf attack to be adopted by ISIS the petpetrator has to have first pledged allegiance – known as giving ‘bayaa’ – to the terrorist group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first.
This can be done in several ways including on social media, as occurred when the San Bernardino attackers in America pledged allegiance to the jihadi chief on Facebook before going on the rampage.
Terror experts have suggested that ISIS could have been waiting for confirmation that Bouhlel had made this pledge before officially claiming responsibility, explaining the delay in the group’s statement.
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