Paris Orly Airport Attack: Alleged Assailant's Last Hours Described

Mar 21, 2017, 00:20
Paris Orly Airport Attack: Alleged Assailant's Last Hours Described

Blood tests determined Sunday that a suspected Islamic extremist consumed drugs and alcohol before a frenzied spree of violence that ended when he took a soldier hostage at Paris' Orly Airport and was shot dead by her fellow patrolmen.

The South Terminal of Paris-Orly Airport was evacuated Saturday after a man tried to seize a gun from a soldier there, according to CNN's French affiliate BFMTV.

"I am here to die for Allah, there will be deaths", he shouted during the attack, the soldiers who witnessed the situation told investigators.

Ben Belgacem, known to the police for theft and drug offences, has been on the watch-list of intelligence services for radicalization, and he showed "determination to go to the end", the prosecutor said.

"He never prayed. He drank and under the effect of alcohol and cannabis looks what happens".

French authorities are treating the attack at Orly airport as a terrorist incident, and have placed three people in custody.

The female soldier attacked at Orly is a member of the Sentinelle Special Forces that guard airports, religious sites and other popular places in France since terror attacks in 2015.

The radicalized man, identified as Zied Ben Belgacem, vowed "to die for Allah" when he was attacking a soldier earlier on Saturday at Orly airport, south Paris, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.

State radio station France Info and BFMTV reported that the suspect was dead.

Orly, Paris' second-biggest airport behind Charles de Gaulle, has both domestic and worldwide flights and the 8:30 a.m. (0730 GMT; 4:30 a.m. EDT) assault brought its operations to a screeching halt.

Mr Molins said that Mr Belgacem was on a watch list after being "radicalised" during a spell in detention from 2011- 2012 and had to report to police regularly over preliminary robbery charges past year.

The results of the autopsy came later in the same the day that Belgacem's father, who had been questioned in relation to the shooting and subsequently released by police, rebutted accusations that his son was a terrorist. "I've screwed up with a police officer, '" the father said, according to CNN.

He abandoned the auto, hijacked another vehicle at gunpoint and drove to the airport.

A spokesman for the Paris airport authority said that the backlog of travellers stranded by the chaos had been cleared and that passengers were experiencing only "slight delays". In mid-February, a machete-wielding Egyptian attacked soldiers on patrol outside the Louvre museum in Paris, slightly injuring one of them, before being shot and wounded. His flat was among dozens raided during the aftermath of the November 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

French prosecutors said an anti-terrorism unit was taking over their investigation.