A former UFC fighter took to social media to praise the decapitation of a French teacher last week.
Zelim Imadaev, who competed in the UFC’s welterweight division, referred to the assailant — a teenage Chechen refugee — as “hero of Islam” in an Instagram story and asked that “Allah approve your jihad.”
Imadaev’s comments come in the wake of a recent attack where an 18-year-old Chechen refugee beheaded a high school history teacher in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on Friday. The suspect was shot dead by police shortly thereafter.
French anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said a text claiming responsibility and a photograph of the victim were found on the suspect’s phone. He also confirmed that a Twitter account under the name Abdoulakh A, which belonged to the suspect, had posted a photo of the decapitated head minutes after the attack, along with the caption, “I have executed one of the dogs from hell who dared to put Muhammad down.”
An investigation for murder with suspected terrorist motives has been opened. Nine suspects have been arrested so far, including the Chechen teen’s grandparents, as well as his 17-year-old brother. The suspect’s half-sister reportedly joined the Islamic State in Syria in 2014, though it is not clear where she is now.
The tragic killing sparked protests and demonstrations within France, as mourners marched near the school holding signs that read “I am a teacher.”
Imadaev, who has lost all three of his UFC bouts, is not the only MMA fighter to show support for the Chechen teen. Albert Duraev, a former champion for the Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA) promotion headed by Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov, joked on social media that “freedom of speech has lost its beginning in France.”
Update: The UFC has provided BloodyElbow with the following statement, “UFC confirms that Zelim Imadaev was released from his contract earlier this summer and is no longer a member of the promotion’s roster.”