The man shot dead by French soldiers at Paris Orly airport on Saturday “yelled he wanted to die in the name of Allah and said ‘whatever happens, there will be deaths,” at the airport.
Ziyed Belgacem, also known as Ziyed Ben Belgacem, identified by police as a “radicalized Muslim” previously investigated as a “potential jihadi” was shot and killed at Paris’ Orly airport after grabbing a soldier’s gun.
Using the servicewoman as a shield, he put his air pistol to her head and shouted at other soldiers with her: “Put down your guns. Put your hands on your head. I am here to die for Allah. In any case, there will be deaths.”
The other soldiers then shot and killed Belgacem.
French authorities believe he was also responsible for an earlier shooting at a police checkpoint.
On his body, police found a Koran and 750 euros in cash. At his home, they found several grams of cocaine, a machete and some foreign currency.
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.
Belgacem’s father, brother and a cousin are in police custody.
Belgacem, 39, was was born in Paris, Tunisian origin and lived in Paris suburb having more than 40 offenses on his record.already on the authorities’ radar. They spotted him as a radicalized Muslim small crook when he served a prison term several years ago for drug-trafficking and theft.
More than 230 people have died in France in the past two years at the hands of attackers allied to the militant Islamist group Islamic State, whose strongholds in Syria and Iraq are being bombed by an international coalition including France.
These include coordinated bombings and shootings in November 2015 in Paris when 130 people were killed and scores injured.
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.
Conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon said in a video message that France was in a “situation of virtual civil war” and there was no justification for lifting a state of emergency in place since the November 2015 attacks, after the justice minister said this week conditions were in place for lifting it.
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”.
President Francois Hollande said the case had shown the need for the “Sentinelle” security operation brought in after 2015 attacks. The soldiers involved were patrolling the airport as part of the “Sentinelle” operation.
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).