Truck terrorist Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was an ‘unlikely jihadist’ who flouted every rule of Islam, his cousin said in an exclusive interview with MailOnline.
The 31-year-old – who wreaked terror on the Nice seafront as he turned an evening celebrating Bastille Day into a night of terror in which he murdered 84 innocent people – drank alcohol, ate pork and took drugs.
He never prayed or attended a mosque, and hit his wife – with whom he had three children aged five, three and 18 months – and was in the process of getting a divorce.
Bouhlel, who had been known to the French police since January, had been on the radar for six months for petty criminality.
It is understood he lost his job as a delivery driver when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into four cars and had also been involved in a bar brawl.
Walid Hamou, a cousin of Bouhlel’s wife Hajer Khalfallah , said: ‘Bouhlel was not religious. He did not go to the mosque, he did not pray, he did not observe Ramadan.’He drank alcohol, ate pork and took drugs. This is all forbidden under Islam.
‘He was not a Muslim, he was a s***.
‘He beat his wife, my cousin, he was a nasty piece of work.’
Yesterday, he was stopped by police just hours before he crushed scores of people underneath the wheels of his 25 tonne truck and fired shots indiscriminately at police and innocent bystanders.
He told officers that he was delivering ice-cream to the area and was allowed to park on the waterfront for several hours.
Horrifying footage of the moment the truck turned into a deadly juggernaut were uploaded online within minutes, showing a trail of dead bodies left in its path.
Bouhlel’s wife was taken into protective custody by police this morning.
Detectives had raided the 12th floor apartment she had shared with her estranged husband in the early hours of the morning and another rented property nearby.
More disturbing facts emerged about Bouhlel’s frame of mind in the hours leading to his murderous rampage on the Promenade des Anglais.
Wissam, a Tunisian neighbour from the same village as the driver claimed: ‘On the Thursday night he was drinking with a colleague and they argued. His pal said you’re worth nothing and he replied: ‘One day, you’ll hear about me.’
Speaking to L’Express he said: ‘Look this is someone who drinks, smokes cannabis.’
A neighbour called Hannan, who lived on the floor below, said: “He always looked at me oddly. He stared at us and we avoided him.’
Another neighbour described him as shifty and unwillingly to make contact.
Also, it now seems that the guns found in the van were fake and the grenade inoperable.
‘Why?’ said Wissam. ‘What was the point of that?’
It comes after Bouhlel was named by police as the terrorist who drove a lorry for more than a mile through crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day in the southern French city.
The attack left a trail of devastation, killing at least 84 people including 10 children, on the Promenade des Anglais.
After crushing scores of people with the lorry, the driver then got out and opened fire on the terrified revellers trying to flee.
Five police officers were able to end the attack by shooting dead the gunmen.
Mr Hamou, 30, said: ‘My cousin is with the police. They took her way at about 11am this morning, for her own protection. She is at the police station now giving a statement.’
Bouhlel is understood have separated from his wife two years ago.
Neighbour Nassim, 33, told MailOnline: ‘Bouhlel used to live in this block of flats with his wife and family. I lived next door to him.
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.