The driver who last night ploughed a 19-tonne white Renault lorry through Bastille Day crowds in Nice has been named as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.
The 31 year old was born in Tunisia but had French citizenship, living in Nice for a number of years and working as a delivery driver. He had three children, and is said to have been depressed following the breakdown of his marriage with their mother two years ago.
Although he was not on the terrorism watch-list, he was known to police having had previous convictions for armed theft, conjugal violence and threatening behaviour. His most recent appearance in court was in March, where he was found guilty of violent conduct following a pub brawl in January.
According to French television station BFM TV, he was also on probation having recently fallen asleep at the wheel and crashing into four vehicles on a highway, it is claimed.
Pictures have emerged of the run-down flat he was living in, which was raided by police just hours after he carried out his deadly attack. Lahouaiej Bouhlel had left a number of identifying items in the cab of the truck, including an ID card, mobile phone and bank card, apparently wanting the public and the authorities to know who he was.
L’appartement du terroriste présumé de Nice passé au peigne fin ce matin pic.twitter.com/n6Qp15NmIA
— Catherine Marciano (@clmarciano) July 15, 2016
Those pictures show a plain apartment with little more than a computer and some papers strewn about. There are no pictures on the walls.
That computer is likely to form the keystone in investigating the attack, as police discover which websites he had been visiting, his social media activity, and crucially whether there was anyone else involved in planning the attack.
At the moment, there seem to be few links to Islam or terrorism in his background, although witnesses say he shouted “Allahu Akbar” – God is the greatest – as he carried out the attack.
According to BFM’s crime correspondent, neighbours say he didn’t pray, but liked girls and salsa.
A neighbour, Jasmine, 40, told BFM: “He was rude and bit weird.
“We would hold the door open for him and he would just blank us. He kept himself to himself but would always rant about his wife. He had marital problems and would tell people in the local cafe. He scared my children though.”
She added: “He was very smart with the same haircut as George Clooney.”
He appears not to have taken Islam particularly seriously, dressing in western clothes and perhaps driving a motorbike.
Another neighbour, Sébastien, said he “didn’t have the appearance of a religious person and was often in shorts, sometimes wearing ‘security’ shoes”.
A third, Anan said that she found him shifty and described him as “a good-looking man who eyed up my two girls too much”.
He has been repeatedly described as “weird” and “quiet”.
One resident told the Telegraph: “He was quiet and moody. I did not know whether he was a Muslim. I think he had a motorbike.”
A woman living in the same block said: “I hardly knew him, but from what I could see he seemed very weird. He lived alone. He said very little to anyone and wasn’t very polite. He wouldn’t hold the door open for you.”
As more details about the attack emerged this morning it became clear that Lahouaiej Bouhlel sat on Nice’s seafront promenade in the truck used to carry out the attack for nine hours yesterday, waiting for the right moment to strike.
At one point police even approached him to ask what he was doing there, but he told them he was delivering ice-creams – and satisfied with his answer they failed to search his vehicle. If they had they would have found not ice-cream but guns and grenades.
One witness who saw the truck accelerate through the crowds said: “I even had time to see the driver’s face. He had a beard and appeared to be having fun.”