The Islamic State terrorist organization has claimed the terrorist attack in Nice Thursday that killed 84, with a statement published by Amaq, a news outlet that often publishes IS propaganda.
A journalist from broadcaster France 24 and jihadi specialist, Wassim Nasr, has tweeted a translation of the statement, which says the truck driver who moved down hundreds of people on the Promenade des Anglais seaside boulevard was "a soldier of the Islamic State who has responded to the call."
#France #Nice l'#EI qualifie l'assaillant de "soldat de l'État islamique qui a répondu favorablement à l'apl" pic.twitter.com/s60evVlcl9
— Wassim Nasr (@SimNasr) July 16, 2016
The driver, 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, was a Tunisian citizen with a French residence permit who had no known connection, according to French authorities, with extremists. His neighbors said he "wasn't very religious," and showed no signs of radicalization. One of the neighbors told France Info the driver liked "girls and salsa." He was known to police only for petty crimes.
The claim does not necessarily indicate that the attack was actually planned or commissioned by Islamic State; it may be simply a recognition of the attacker as an IS soldier after an individual initiative. Bouhlel was killed by police who riddled the truck's cab with bullets.
The IS claim also comes 36 hours after the attack. Social media accounts that usually support IS have been gloating over the attack, the third terrorist massacre in France since January last year, but none mentioned the man's name before authorities released it.
The "call" mentioned in the IS statement may be a reference to frequent calls by Islamic State propaganda material to attack infidels outside of the so-called caliphate with any means available — not necessarily explosives or guns but also knives or vehicles.
Several people connected to Bouhlel have been arrested after the attack, French authorities said, without specifying whether they are suspected of a role in the attack or were simply being held for questioning.