Paris airport attacker said he was 'ready to die for allah'

Namrata Tripathi
Knife-wielding man shouting 'Allah' attacks French soldier at Paris subway station

The Frenchman who attempted to seize a soldier's gun at Paris Orly Airport on Saturday, March 18, and was subsequently shot dead, had said reportedly that the was ready "to die for Allah" and had vowed to slay others, according to French officials.

Man shot dead after seizing soldier's gun at Paris Orly Airport

France's Interior Minister Bruno le Roux said that the attacker, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, had opened fire at a police officer and was later shot down in a shop by a soldier in the airport's southern terminal. The Paris-born assailant was killed after he attacked a soldier and tried to steal her assault weapon.

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Flights on Saturday were suspended from both the terminals of the airport, while some were diverted to Charles de Gaulle Airport situated in the north of the capital.

Reports also stated that the 39-year-old Frenchman had a string of criminal convictions and also showed signs of Islamic radicalisation, according to AFP reports.

The assailant was described as "an extremely violent individual" by Paris prosecutor Francois Molins. The prosecutor added that he harboured terrorist instincts and was described as a "devil" with a "scary face" by his neighbours.

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The assailant's criminal records showed that he was familiar with court proceedings and had spent frequent spells behind bars. The Frenchman had nine entries on his records, from violence to receiving stolen goods. He was also sentenced to five years in prison in 2001 for armed robbery. He was also sentenced  to three years in 2009 for drug trafficking.

Prosecutor Molins said that the police noted "signs of radicalisation" when he was in prison. He also added that even though the assailant was known to the police officers, he was not considered as a serious threat. 

According to Ben Belgacem's neighbours, he was a serious man and nobody really knew him. They also described him as a lonely person.

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"The last time I saw him was three days ago. He had a determined air, as if he wanted to fight with his family or colleagues," neighbour Hamid told AFP.

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