Naceur Benyahia was surprised to hear the name Yassin Salhi regarding the terror attack in Isère. The president of the local Islamic association in Pontarlier (Doubs) knew the man arrested by a fireman after the attack at the US owned factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier. “It’s a man that I’ve known for ten years. A calm man who played soccer,” remembers Benyahia.
At the beginning of 2000, radicalized youths attempted to take over the Philippe Grenier mosque, reported L’Est Républicain. “It was one person,” Naceur Benyahi corrects, “He tried to change the inner structure. He was done away with quickly, he was kicked out.”
Portarlier’s mayor Patrick Genre, elected in 1999, adds: “The religious association was very well run and knew how to stop a takeover of the mosque.” He added that there was no radicalization problem in the town of 20,000.
“There is no radical movement in our mosque,” Benyahi announced. “Our religion is based on a sound book and on the Prophet. If someone tries to change that, they leave the religion.”
The president noted that Salhi now lives in Besançon. “He left Pontarlier when his father died and his mother returned to live in Morocco. His brothers and sisters dispersed. I didn’t know he was married, that he had three children.”