A man on the French terror watch list shot and wounded a police officer in northern Paris before traveling to Orly airport where he tackled a female soldier and tried to take her rifle.  She was among the French soldiers on anti-terror patrols of the airport.  She did not release her weapon to the terrorist, and he was subsequently shot and killed by other soldiers.

The dead terrorist has been identified as Ziyed Ben Belgacem, a radicalized Muslim whose apartment was among those searched following the coordinated Paris terror attacks in November 2015.

Fox News reports:

The 39-year-old suspected attacker killed at Paris’ Orly airport on Saturday after trying to wrestle away a soldier’s weapon had already crossed authorities’ radars for suspected Islamic extremism.

Paris prosecutors said suspect’s house was among scores searched in November 2015 in the immediate aftermath of suicide bomb-and-gun attacks that killed 130 people in Paris. Those searches targeted people with suspected radical leanings.

. . . . A French official connected to the investigation confirmed French media reports identifying the attacker as Ziyed Ben Belgacem.

. . . . French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the attacker, whom he did not identify, assaulted three Air Force soldiers who were patrolling the airport. He said the soldier who was attacked managed to hold on to her rifle and the two soldiers she was with opened fire to protect her and the public.

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

A spokesman for the military force that patrols public sites in France told BFM television the soldier attacked at was “shocked” but uninjured after the “very violent aggression” by a man who was quickly shot dead by two of her fellow patrolmen.

Fox also reports on the earlier car-jacking incident in which the terrorist wounded another officer in the face.

Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said the man was linked with a carjacking about 90 minutes earlier in a northern Paris suburb and that police and intelligence services know who he is.

In that incident, the Paris police office said, a man fired a birdshot at officers who stopped him during a traffic stop, wounding one in the face. He then fled and stole a woman’s car after threatening her with a weapon. That car was found near Orly.

A police source described him as a radicalized Muslim but did not identify him by name, according to Reuters.

The soldiers involved in the incident are part of the Sentinelle special forces who have been installed around France to protect sensitive areas.

The Guardian reports:

The soldiers were part of the Sentinelle special forces, an elite military group installed around France to protect sensitive sites after a string of deadly extremist attacks.

. . . . The French presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the troops involved in the Sentinelle operation. The independent centrist said during a speech in Paris that the soldiers attacked at Orly airport “once again demonstrated calm, control and professionalism”.

Reuters reports that French president Hollande “said the case had been turned over to anti-terrorism prosecutors and a number of operations were under way. The incident had shown the need for the ‘Sentinelle’ security operation brought in after an outbreak of attacks by militants in 2015, he said.”

Reuters is also reporting that the terrorist texted his father saying, “I’ve screwed up. I’ve shot a policeman.”


UPDATES (3/19/17):

The terrorist reportedly announced that he was at Orly to “die in the name of Allah” and that “people are going to die.”

The BBC reports:

Belgacem arrived at the airport and attacked the military patrol in the south terminal.

He tried to seize the servicewoman’s automatic weapon, put his gun to her head and said: “I’m here to die for Allah. In any case people are going to die.”

He was then shot dead by two other soldiers.

A copy of the Koran was found on his body, Mr Molins added.

The father of the dead terrorist claims that his son is not a terrorist and that his actions were the result of alcohol and marijuana.

CNN reports:

The father of the man shot dead at Orly airport in Paris after attacking a French solider insisted Sunday his son was “not a terrorist.”

Ziyed Ben Belgacem held a gun on a female soldier while shouting: “I am here to die in the name of Allah … There will be deaths,” before two of the soldier’s comrades shot him dead Saturday, a prosecutor told reporters.

But speaking to France’s Europe 1 radio, Belgacem’s father denied his son was a terrorist and instead blamed his actions on drugs and alcohol.

“My son was not a terrorist. He never prayed and he drank,” said the father, who is not being named by French authorities.

“This is what happens under the influence of drink and cannabis.”


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