Disturbing new information about Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the 31-year-old Tunisian-born man who killed at least 84 people Wednesday by plowing a truck through a crowd at a Bastille Day fireworks display in Nice, France, paints a picture of an angry, violent domestic abuser — but at the same time casts doubt on the possible terrorist motives for the attack.
While sympathizers with the terror group ISIS have celebrated the Nice truck attack online, and some experts have speculated that ISIS was somehow behind the attack, the profile of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel — who was born in Tunisia but lived in Nice — emerging from acquaintances and family members appears to contradict a religious or jihadist motive for the devastating attack, which has been labeled as “terrorism” by French authorities.
First pic Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.His cousin (Nice truck terrorist)says He Was Not Muslim and NEVER went to mosque pic.twitter.com/Z0UKYHIyqL
— Rahul Gandhi (@office0ffRG) July 15, 2016
“Bouhlel was not religious. He did not go to the mosque, he did not pray, he did not observe Ramadan,” Hajer Khalfallah, a cousin to the truck attack driver’s wife, told the Daily Mail.
“He drank alcohol, ate pork and took drugs. This is all forbidden under Islam. He was not a Muslim, he was a s***,” the in-law said. “He beat his wife, my cousin. He was a nasty piece of work.”
A neighbor also spoke to the news outlet, saying that Bouhlel smoked marijuana in addition to being a regular alcohol drinker.
“On the Thursday night he was drinking with a colleague and they argued,” the neighbor said. “His pal said, ‘You’re worth nothing,’ and he replied, ‘One day, you’ll hear about me.’”
The following video from Britain’s Channel Four News includes further details about what is now known about Nice truck attack driver Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.
According to a report by The Independent newspaper, Bouhlel had at least for a time worked as the driver of a delivery truck. He reportedly convinced police that he was at the Bastille day celebration to peddle ice cream out of his truck, which gave him the opening to drive the deadly vehicle down an otherwise restricted boulevard.
The video below, courtesy of The Telegraph newspaper, shows the final shootout between Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel and police, which ended in the terror driver’s death.
Other neighbors said that Bouhlel, who was known to local police as a petty criminal and sometimes violent thug — but was not considered a potential jihadi terrorist — became especially angry in recent months due to an ongoing divorce from his wife, with whom he had three children ranging in age from 18 months to five years.
“He was rude and bit weird. We would hold the door open for him and he would just blank,” said one neighbor. “He kept himself to himself but would always rant about his wife. He had marital problems and would tell people in the local café. He scared my children though.”
But not all of Bouhlel’s neighbors harbored a poor impression of him. One woman, who lived upstairs from the Nice truck attack driver, told the American news network CNN that he “was never mean to anyone” and sometimes helped her with repairs in her apartment. She expressed shock that Bouhlel could have committed the horrifying massacre on Thursday.
Investigators in France have been scrambling for more than 24 hours to uncover any possible links between Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel and known terrorist cells or networks. But so far, according to a report in the Washington Post on Friday, no such connections had been discovered.
MORE NICE TERROR ATTACK COVERAGE FROM THE INQUISITR
- Bastille Day France Truck Attack Coverage Live Stream: UPDATED With Info On Driver, Latest Death Toll
- Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel’s Rampage Ended When Unarmed Citizen Jumped Into Truck And Wrestled Him
- ‘Bastille Day’ Movie Ads Pulled; Movie Poster Eerily Similar To Attack
- Truck Attack Kills 84 In Nice, France During Bastille Day Celebrations; Two American Tourists Among Victims
- Rihanna In Nice During Bastille Day Terror Attack, Cancels Concert
- ISIS Praises Bastille Day Attack That Left Close To 80 Dead, Threatens More Attacks In France And Berlin
French officials, however, were clear in linking the Nice attack to terrorism.
“The threat of terrorism, as we have now been saying for a long time, is weighing heavily on France, and it will continue to do so for a long time yet,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said. “We are facing a war waged on us by terrorism.”
Whether the horrific Nice truck attack massacre carried out by Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was indeed an act of political or religious terrorism or merely the insane act of a lone, angry man remains to be determined.
[Photos By Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images/Police Handout]