Paris Orly Airport in France had to be evacuated on Saturday when a terrorist was shot and killed by police after trying to grab an assault rifle off a female soldier, claiming that he was there to “die for Allah.” This was just the latest in a series of terrorist attacks taking place in France, according to a report in Reuters.
On Saturday morning, Ziyed Ben Belgacem arrived at Orly airport, “threw down a bag containing a can of petrol, and seized hold of a woman air force member who was part of a military patrol at the airport,” according to Paris prosecutor François Molins. Holding his air pistol against her head, Belgacem ordered the other soldiers to drop their weapons, shouting, “I am here to die for Allah. In any case, there will be deaths.”
However, the only death was his … after soldiers shot him.
“Given the violence that is shown in the pictures … you sense that he was determined to go through with it,” Molins told reporters, noting that the assailant had tried to get hold of the woman soldier’s Famas assault rifle. “Everything leads one to believe he wanted to seize the Famas so that there were deaths and then to fire at people.”
Police found a copy of the Quran and 750 euros in cash on the dead man’s body. A further investigation of his home turned up “several grams of cocaine, a machete, and some foreign currency,” said Molins, adding that there was enough evidence to launch a terrorism investigation because the man had clearly been radicalized.
Belgacem’s father, brother, and a cousin were subsequently placed into police custody, said Molins, noting that the 39-year-old man was already under investigation by authorities as a radicalized Muslim after having served time in prison several years ago for drug-trafficking.
Several hours prior to entering the airport, officials said, “Belgacem shot and wounded a police officer with his air pistol after a routine traffic stop north of Paris, before fleeing.”
After shooting the police officer, Belgacem reportedly made a phone call to his father and brother, saying he had done something stupid.
“Later he entered a bar in Vitry-sur-Seine on the other side of Paris and opened fire with his air gun without hitting anyone,” recalled Molins, adding that he “also stole a car before arriving at the airport.”
Terrorist attacks have plagued France during the past two years, claiming more than 230 deaths. The worst of the attacks took place in Paris in November of 2015 when 130 people were killed in coordinated bombings and shootings. In another attack that took place last month, “Egyptian Abdullah Reda al-Hamahmy, 29, was shot and seriously wounded near the Louvre museum when he launched himself at a group of soldiers, crying out ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is greatest).”
“With the country in the throes of a highly-charged election campaign before a two-round presidential election in April and May, the attacks will fuel the political debate,” according to the report.
France is in a “situation of virtual civil war,” stated Conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon after the justice minister said this week that conditions were right for lifting the state of emergency which has been in place since the November 2015 attacks.
“Our government is overwhelmed, stunned, paralyzed like a rabbit in the headlights,” observed far-right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen, noting that the Orly airport attacker was a multiple repeat offender who was trying to pull off a “massacre.”
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