Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Video of suspected Islamic extremist at Paris airport shows attacker rushing soldier

Video of suspected Islamic extremist at Paris airport shows attacker rushing soldier

Before he was shot and killed by French soldiers at Paris Orly airport Saturday, a man tried to grab a female soldier's gun and yelled he was there to "die for Allah" according to a French prosecutor. That is almost twice the legal limit for driving in France.

The attacker, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, was shot dead within three minutes during the ensuing standoff with the companion and another soldier, the Daily Mail reports.

Then, 90 minutes later, he attacked the military patrol at Orly, causing panic and the shutdown of the French capital's second-biggest airport. Belgacem's brother and a cousin were released later Sunday.

Belgacem's choice of target and evidence that he had been radicalized justified launching a terrorism investigation, Molins said.

In an interview Sunday with French radio Europe 1, a man identified as the suspect's father said that Belgacem wasn't a practicing Muslim and drank alcohol. "He drank, but under the effects of alcohol and cannabis [marijuana] this is where one ends up".

Mr Ben Belgacem said that on the day of his death his son "called me at seven, eight in the morning and said, there you go, dad".

The father was released from police custody overnight Saturday. "He said to me: "Daddy, please forgive me".

Belgacem, 39, originally launched an attack on a police traffic patrol with an air rifle before the incident. "I've screwed up with a police officer".

The latest in a series of attacks in France forced the evacuation of France's second-busiest airport and thrust security back to the forefront of France's presidential election campaign.

An earlier search of Belgacem's home had found several grams of cocaine, the prosecutor said.

He had been investigated for links to radical Islam and was jailed for five years in 2001 for armed robbery, and again in 2009 for drug dealing.

He had been flagged as having been radicalised during a spell in detention in 2011-2012, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said. The attack at Orly comes with France still on high alert following a wave of jihadist attacks that have claimed more than 230 lives in two years.

Molins said that according to the soldiers, the attacker yelled: "Put down your weapons!" Put your hands on your head!

During the incident, Belgacem shouted out: "I am here to die for Allah".

Far-right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen, running on an anti-immigration, anti-EU ticket, said the death of the Orly airport attacker, who she said was a multiple repeat offender, had averted a "possible massacre".

Belgacem's house was among scores searched in November 2015 in the aftermath of the suicide bomb-and-gun attacks that killed 130 people in Paris.

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