Friday, 26 May, 2017

Paris airport attacker said : 'I'm here to die for Allah'

CHRISTOPHE SIMON | AFP | Getty Images CHRISTOPHE SIMON | AFP | Getty Images
Howard Terry | 21 March, 2017, 00:35

He took drugs drank alcohol and never prayed.

THE father of the slain Paris airport gunman said yesterday that his son was under the influence of drink or drugs, not radical Islam.

Ben Belgacem's father insisted his son - who had spent time in prison for armed robbery and drug-dealing - was not an extremist.

"He told me "I ask for your forgiveness".

French President Francois Hollande said investigators will determine whether the attacker "had a terrorist plot behind him".

Prosecutors said Belgacem's father had been released from police custody on Saturday night, but his brother and a cousin were still being questioned. Two other soldiers then opened fire "to protect her" and the public at the airport. They struggled over her weapon, the prosecutor said.

She then dropped to her knees, giving her colleagues the opportunity to shoot at him.

"Toxicology tests carried out on Sunday showed an alcohol level of 0.93 grams per liter in his blood, and the presence of cannabis and cocaine", the judicial source said. No one is wounded.

Before the airport attack, the prosecutor said, Belgacem was stopped for speeding in a northern suburb of Paris.

Ben Belgacem, a Frenchman born to Tunisian parents, was known to police and intelligence agencies.

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

The episode Saturday came amid a heated presidential election campaign in France, with the first round of voting just five weeks away, on April 23.

He was killed by the security forces in a shop after seizing the weapon in the airport's southern terminal, the BBC reported.

No one else in the busy terminal was hurt, but thousands of travellers were evacuated and flights were diverted to the city's other airport.

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

Likewise, rival and independent centrist Emmanuel Macron told French television that maintaining the state of emergency was "essential".

Fran├žois 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".

"Our government is overwhelmed, stunned, paralysed like a rabbit in the headlights", she said. "But there is the bravery of our soldiers!"

French policemen secure the area at Paris Orly Airport on Saturday after the shooting of a man by French security forces. Traffic was jammed near the airport and people wheeled suitcases down the road. Incoming flights were diverted to nearby Charles de Gaulle Airport. The incident disrupted the travel plans of 5,000 to 6,000 passengers.

Passengers wrote on Twitter that they had heard gunshots in the south terminal and police were carrying out a security operation as they were told to flee.

Authorities said air traffic would not return to normal before Sunday morning.

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