Sources say the suspect in the beheading of a French businessman took a selfie with the body. Police are interrogating the man in connection with the assault on a chemical plant belonging to US firm Air Products.
Sources close to the investigation told news agencies that the suspect, 35-year-old father of three Yassin Salhi, had sent a picture of himself with the severed head to a Canadian mobile number via Facebook's WhatsApp messaging service. Investigators could not immediately confirm media reports that the selfie had gone to an unspecified person now in Syria, where the "Islamic State" (IS) has seized territory.
In an interview with RTL, a co-worker at the plant near the southeastern city of Lyon described Salhi as "a wolf in sheep's clothing" who had spoken to him about IS but had not tried to recruit him.
Police have accused Sahli of driving a delivery vehicle into a warehouse full of industrial gases at the Air Products plant. After overpowering Salhi, firefighters who arrived after the blast found the body and severed head of Herve Cornara, his 54-year-old manager at the delivery company.
Though IS claimed involvement in two other attacks on Friday, no group immediately took responsibility for the attack in France, and the investigation has not turned up a solid link to known extremist factions. Authorities investigated Salhi for extremism from 2006 to 2008.
Prosecutor's spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said Salhi had begun speaking with investigators. She said investigators did not yet know the site of the beheading, but that the murderer had strangled the victim before his decapitation.
On Saturday, President Francois Hollande met with the prime minister and key cabinet members. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the government would "continue to work relentlessly."
Salhi's sister and wife also remain in police custody in Lyon, officials say. Under French anti-terrorism laws, police may hold Salhi and his sister and wife for up to four days before either releasing them or locking them up on preliminary charges.
On Saturday, prosecutor Francois Molins said there was no indication that Salhi had an accomplice with him during the assault.
mkg/bk (AFP, AP)