French backpacker shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ during fatal Home Hill stabbing
THE Frenchman accused of stabbing to death a British backpacker in Queensland posted a bizarre statement on Facebook just moments before the attack, saying he was “going to die soon”.
A French friend told Nine News that accused attacker Smail Ayad posted the following message “minutes before” the stabbing frenzy: “I am a victim. I feel I’m going to die soon. Whoever you are who like me, please follow me. I love everyone.”
— Darren Curtis (@DarrenCurtis9) August 24, 2016
Other fellow backpackers have shed light on Ayad, saying his behaviour changed unrecognisably on the night of the attack.
Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 21, of Derbyshire, was killed in a brutal attack at Shelley’s Backpackers in Home Hill, about 100km southeast of Townsville, at 11.15pm on Tuesday.
The French national entered the country in March on a temporary visa.
According to his Facebook profile, which now appears to have been removed from the social networking site, Ayad is a self-described boxer who lists his home as Thailand.
Police are said to be investigating whether he had a romantic interest in Ms Ayliffe-Chung.
The Townsville Bulletin understands Ayad had “fawned over” Ms Ayliffe-Chung for several days, telling other backpackers the pair were deeply in love and married. The Bulletin reports he became enraged on Tuesday night after hearing the British backpacker had posed for revealing photos in a magazine and didn’t reciprocate his feelings.
Ayad was friends with Ms Ayliffe-Chung on Facebook. He was also Facebook friends with British man Thomas Jackson, 30, who was stabbed multiple times in the face, chest and stomach and remains in hospital.
Others present in the hostel, which is popular with French and British tourists, told The Australian his behaviour changed drastically on Tuesday evening.
“Everybody has told us he was completely crazy, they couldn’t recognise him,” a French tourist told the paper.
“He said he wants to kill everybody …. maybe there is alcohol and drugs involved.”
Up to 30 witnesses — many of them terrified backpackers — at the north Queensland hostel watched as Ayad burst in singing the French national anthem and crying “God is great” in Arabic during the frenzied attack, The Australian reports.
“Initial inquiries indicate that comments which may be construed (as) being of an extremist nature were made by the alleged offender,” Queensland deputy police commissioner Steve Gollschewski said during a press conference.
“It is alleged that the suspect used the phrase ‘Allahu akbar’ during the attack and when arrested by police.
“Police are not searching for anyone else in relation to the incident at this time.”
The Frenchman had been at the backpackers for several days and was rooming with those who were attacked. Ms Ayliffe-Chung, a waitress and model, was also staying at the hostel while working on a farm.
Queensland Police Minister Bill Byrne described the stabbing attack as “tragic and disturbing” but sought to distance the incident from extremism. He said the attacks were not “about race or religion,” despite police not being able to rule out radical links to the murder at this time.
Ayad was taken to hospital following his arrest and was still to be charged last night.
Mr Gollschewski said investigators would look at mental health or drug misuse “factors”, and said Ayad did not have any known links to the Islamic State terror group. Police believe he acted alone.
They said they were not aware of him making any local connections during his time in the country.
According to his now-deleted Facebook page, Ayad was from Marseilles and studied at the Lycee de la Mediterranee, in southern France. His profile says he now lives in Chiang Mai in Thailand.
A French backpacker who spent three months at the hostel — and left the day before the attack — said the attacker was usually “quiet and calm”, according to The Australian.