Killer Brahim Aoussaoui is pictured smiling as he entered mainland Europe just weeks before killing three people at a Catholic church in Nice.
The picture was taken by authorities in the Italian port city of Bari, where Aoussaoui was taken ashore on October 8 having spent 20 days in coronavirus quarantine – first on the island of Lampedusa, where he landed on September 20, and then on board the Italian quarantine ship Rhapsody.
As he was taken ashore, Aoussaoui had his photograph taken, along with his name, date of birth, and fingerprints. His records were also checked, but came back clean, according to Italian media. He had no criminal record, had not previously tried to enter Italy, and had not been flagged by security services.
The following day, Aoussaoui was informed that he had no legal right to be in Italy, and was handed an order to leave the country within seven days. But, rather than being deported, Aoussaoui was somehow released.
It is not clear exactly when he left Bari, but it is thought he made his way to Paris on the train on either October 9 or 10, allowing him to cross the border into France undetected.
It is then thought that he stayed in the French capital until October 29, the day of the massacre, when he caught the early-morning train to Nice.
Arriving in the city at 6.30am, he is known to have sent a photo of the Notre Dame basilica – the same church he would later attack – to his brother back in Tunisia, saying he wanted to spend the night there.
As the church opened at 8.30am he made his way inside before pulling out a 12-inch blade and launching his attack, killing three people.
The first to die is a parishioner in her sixties who has not yet been identified. She was a regular at the church who had come to pray first thing in the morning, and who had her throat slit near the church’s font in an attempted beheading.
The next to die was the church’s 54-year-old sacristan Vincent Loques, who had opened the doors to Aoussaoui and was busy preparing for Mass. He was due to celebrate his birthday on Friday.
Brazilian-born Simone Barreto Silva, 44, another parishioner, was then stabbed multiple times but managed to escape the church around 8.54am, running to a nearby burger bar where she bled to death.
The mother-of-three’s last words to paramedics were: “Tell my children that I love them”.
Friends in Brazil said that Silva had been in France for 30 years. Brahim Jelloule, the owner of the restaurant that she staggered to before dying, revealed that his brother first saw Silva covered in blood in the street.
Jelloule, who is a Muslim, said his brother and a staff member dragged Silva inside before going into the church and confronting Aoussaoui, who was still inside an armed with a knife.
The pair fled and called police, who arrived around 9.10am and shot Aoussaoui 14 times as he screamed “Allahu Akbar”, a phrase he kept shouting even after being sedated.
A picture showing Aoussaoui bleeding on the floor and being treated by paramedics after he was shot by police was tweeted by the head of the respected SITE organisation.
Last night, police arrested a 47-year-old man in Nice who is thought to have had contact with Aoussaoui the day before the attack and may have provided him with a telephone.
The attack came just days after Thabat, an al-Qaeda-linked press agency, published a call for Muslims to wage “jihad” in France over newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s caricatures of the Prophet.
Aoussaoui’s family, speaking from the impoverished Tunisian town of Bouhajla where he lived before going to Europe, said he had been in contact with them since arriving in France.
From the Tunisian province of Sfax, the killer’s mother Kmar, her eyes wet with tears, said she was surprised to hear her son was in France when he called, upon his arrival and had no idea what he was planning.
“You don’t know the French language, you don’t know anyone there, you’re going to live alone there, why, why did you go there?” she said she told him over the phone at the time.
His brother told the Al Arabiya TV network: “He told me he wanted to spend the night in front of the cathedral. He also sent me a photo of the building. He phoned me when he arrived in France.”
He then told of the family’s shock that Brahim Aoussaoui was responsible for the terrorist attack.
“What we saw in the images is him, our son,” they said.