Paris Orly Airport: Assailant shouted ‘I’m here to die in the name of Allah’

A man holding 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, a prosecutor told reporters.

None of the soldiers were wounded, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said. The suspect, identified by Molins as Ziyed Ben Belgacem also is accused 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.

Molins said the suspect had been imprisoned several times on violence and theft convictions, including one five-year stint that began in 2009.

French terrorism investigators will lead the inquiry into the attacks, Molins said.

When Belgacem got to Orly Airport in the southern outskirts of Paris, he went to the South Terminal, carrying a weapon and a can of gas in his rucksack, Molins said.

He grabbed the female soldier and used her as a shield. They struggled over her weapon, the prosecutor said. With the soldier down on her knees, the suspect rose enough for the other two soldiers to shoot him several times. The whole scene unfolded in just a couple of minutes, Molins said.

Three relatives of the suspect were later taken into custody, Molins said. Belgacem’s plans are unclear, he said, adding that an investigation will determine whether he acted as a “lone wolf.”

Prior attack on Saturday

Molins said Belgacem was involved in several incidents before heading to the airport.

• 6:55 a.m.: Shoots police officer after being stopped for speeding and driving with headlights turned off near Stains, in northern suburbs of Paris.

• Time not given: Goes to a bar in Vitry-sur-Seine where he had been until 3 a.m. and fires four shots with gun stolen from police officer. No one is wounded.

• Short time later: Drives from bar (where he leaves cell phone), carjacks a new vehicle

8:06 a.m. — Arrives at Orly airport

About 16 minutes later, Belgacem assaulted the soldier.

Hours after the airport incident, police launched an operation in the same northern Paris suburb where the officer was shot, the National Police tweeted. The agency did not specify the reason for the operation.

Police were questioning Belgacem’s father and brother, Thibault-Lecuivre said. The attacker, who was born in 1978, was under supervision by authorities, Molins said, echoing Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux’s earlier comments that Belgacem was known to intelligence services.

Soldiers lauded for response

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian commended the soldiers who responded to the airport threat.

They responded with “remarkable professionalism and self-control” to protect their colleague and the public, he said.

This was the fourth attack against security forces deployed as part of France’s Operation Sentinel, Le Drian said. The national security operation was launched following the Paris terror attacks in January 2015; France has been under a state of emergency since November that year.

Le Roux also praised the swift response of security forces at the airport.

President François Hollande said the incident demonstrated that the ongoing national security operation — which has placed extra security forces at airports, train stations and other public places — is “absolutely essential” to keep people safe.

“I want to salute the courage and the exceptional behavior of the security forces who managed to put away the individual and to do so in an extremely complex situation because this occurred in Orly Airport,” he said at a news conference.

The anti-terrorism prosecutor is investigating the motives and circumstances of Saturday’s attack and the existence of any accomplices, according to a presidential statement.

Politicians add praise

France’s presidential candidates, who are campaigning ahead of next month’s first round of voting, took to Twitter to pay tribute to the response by the police and the military.

Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist, said the military “once again showed their professionalism this morning in Orly.”

François Fillon, of the centre-right Republican party, said: “Tribute to the men and women of Sentinel who work for our security and once again displayed courage and efficiency.”

Marine Le Pen, presidential candidate for the far-right Front National party, said: “France brimming over with violence, a consequence of the lax successive governments. But there is the bravery of our soldiers!”

Bomb squad called in

The airport was evacuated as an elite operations unit and bomb squad officers rushed to the scene. The bomb squad finished its search for explosives but did not immediately report the findings, local authorities said. More than 450 officers were involved in the operation to secure the airport and search for evidence, France’s National Police said.

Paris Airports, the group that manages the city’s airports, said both Orly terminals were reopening Saturday afternoon after a suspension of several hours. Travelers should check with their airlines before heading to the airport, it added. Some earlier flights were rerouted to Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport.

Travel for about 2,000 people had been severely disrupted, the president of Paris Airports, Augustin de Romanet, told CNN.

“It has been very disruptive, because we could fear many, many things, but all the police forces and the army have been very effective, so everything is OK now,” he said.

With roads around the airport closed off by police as the security operation unfolded, travelers earlier tried to make their way to the airport on foot with their baggage.

Paris Orly Airport is France’s second-busiest airport, with international and domestic air traffic.

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Paris Orly Airport: Armed assailant shouted 'I am here to die for Allah'

10 thoughts on “Paris Orly Airport: Assailant shouted ‘I’m here to die in the name of Allah’

  1. Qualia

    except you are more likely to die from a gunshot fired by an American citizen than from a terrorist, we have been safe since the twin towers, despite not profiling entire countries. The judges simply judge the interpretation of our laws, if feel you have to blame something blame the Constitution, if the EC president can’t write an order that adheres to our laws blame him not the law. Hard to believe we have come to the point of calling the Constitution the conservative denigration of “politically correct”.

    • Dieselrider

      Once again you prove yourself a fool and in incompetent by pretending to know what you are talking about. Anyone reading your posts can see through you. The constitution is clear. and the Judges are in the wrong. They are just left wing zealots as you are and are throwing false statements out there to block acts that should be adhered to.

      As to being more likely to get shot by our own countrymen: You are even far more likely to die in an auto accident, have a heart attack, etc but, why allow the chance. There are many people from these countries named in the travel ban that wish to do harm to westerners and especially Americans. If you feel that safe with them then by all means, please take your family there and spout the kind of rhetoric there that you do here. You won’t be missed at all here.

      • Qualia

        Purposeful violence is not a car or a heart attack.
        Overreaction is caused by emotional paranoia and that’s what we are dealing with.
        There are people all over the world who want to hurt us, not just in those countries.
        There are people all over this country who want to hurt others.
        You can’t protect yourself against all of them and a travel ban is no answer.
        Funny how you conservatives seem to always go for the act like that there and you’ll be killed, well, I’m not there, I’m here and have as much right to my opinion as any other citizen.
        I would be missed, not by you but that’s not a concern of mine.
        As I said, the judges are far more educated about what is and what isn’t than any right wing rag, Fox news or any other alt-right biased and possibly racist site.
        It’s groovy to hate Muslims, it’s a fad. It’s cool to hate liberals for not being groovy. For seeing through the stereotyped biases.

          • Qualia

            A true genius you are DR. You are infallible, never wrong, the expert at everything, the man to go to on all things political, until…………….. confronted with the evidence, then it’s crickets. But we won’t hear about that will we?

          • Dieselrider

            Should have clarified that by saying in European countries. It’s safer here as we aren’t letting in so many of the base that the extremists come from.

  2. Dieselrider

    Sure is good that a couple Judges are making it possible for this kind of thing to happen in our own country. Sure wouldn’t want to miss out on all the FUN the “open border” countries are enjoying. We may end up dead but, at least we’ll be politically correct and not hurt anyone’s feelings. Well, except for the victims they take with them. (sarc)

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