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French Authorities Say Killed Airport Attacker was a Radicalized Muslim

Ziyed Ben Belgacem tried to use the soldier as a human shield but she dropped to her knees, giving her two colleagues an opportunity to shoot him.

PARIS – Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters Saturday that the man shot by soldiers at the Orly Airport in Paris was, identified by Molins as Ziyed Ben Belgacem, a 39 year old Muslim authorities believe was  recently radicalized.

Molins reported that Ziyed held a gun on a French female soldier at Orly Airport shouted, “I am here to die in the name of Allah … There will be deaths,” before two of the soldier’s comrades shot the attacker dead Saturday morning.

 

He tried to use the soldier as a human shield but she dropped to her knees, giving her two colleagues an opportunity to shoot him, AFP reported.

Ziyed was carrying a petrol can in a backpack as well as a copy of the Koran, Molins said. Officials say he had a string of criminal convictions and was previously investigated for links to radical Islam.

Authorities accused him of shooting a police officer earlier in the day when he stole the officer’s weapon. That officer has non-life-threatening wounds, officials said.

Ziyed’s father, brother and 35-year-old cousin have all been detained for questioning, Molins said. All three had made contact with the police themselves.

Molins said the suspect had been imprisoned several times on violence and theft convictions, including one five-year stint that began in 2009 and was investigated for radicalization in 2015, although he did not feature on the list of those thought to pose a high risk.

Ziyed, was under supervision by authorities, Molins said, echoing Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux’s earlier comments that he was known to intelligence services.

He lived in an apartment in Garges-les-Gonesse, which was searched by investigators after the shooting on Saturday.

France remains under a state of emergency after a series of terror attacks, including the November 2015 massacre in Paris and a truck attack in Nice last July.

In mid-February, a machete-wielding Egyptian man attacked a soldier outside Paris’s Louvre museum before being shot and wounded.

The soldiers on patrol at Orly airport belong to Operation Sentinelle, a force of 7,000 troops deployed in the capital and other cities after the January 2015 attacks in Paris.

On Thursday, a letter bomb exploded at the Paris offices of the International Monetary Fund, injuring a secretary who suffered burns to her hands and face.

By Geoff Thomas

 

 

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