The man who killed three people in a knife attack on a church in Nice in the French Côte d’Azur on Thursday has been named Brahim Auisawi, a 21-year-old migrant from Tunisia.
Auisaui arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa in late September, when authorities quarantined him for a coronavirus before releasing him on orders to leave Italian territory. He arrived in France in early October, sources close to the investigation told AFP.
French authorities say Auisaui did not have identity documents when police shot and wounded him after the attack, but carried a document indicating his name from the Italian Red Cross. He had not sought political asylum in France.
Prosecutors in Sicily confirmed to the Guardian that Auisaui arrived in Lampedusa on September 20, after which he spent 14 days on a quarantine ship before being transferred to Bari on the mainland on October 9.
The large number of arrivals from Tunisia means that repatriation procedures from Italy are often delayed. Instead, Tunisians are often given a “exit ticket” requiring them to leave Italy within seven days. Auisaui received such an order, but like many people he traveled illegally to France.
Sicilian prosecutors also confirmed that Auisaui had no documents with him and said that a photo of him released by the French police matched the one they had.
According to magistrates, the “current and most likely hypothesis” is that he traveled to Lampedusa aboard a small ship.
Europol said in a report earlier this year that there were no signs of systematic use of “illegal migration” by terrorist organizations.
However, a UN expert commission says the arrest of nine Syrians, an Egyptian and a Turkmen in Cyprus in May 2020, all linked to groups linked to Isis or Al Qaeda, shows that potential terrorists can use illegal migration routes to reach Europe.
Matteo Salvini, Italy’s former interior minister, said that if reports that Auisaui had landed in Lampedusa were confirmed, current Interior Minister Luciana Lamorguese would have to resign or be fired.