HE Paris Orly Airport attacker shouted ‘I am here to die for Allah, there will be deaths’ as he attempted to steal a soldier’s gun before being shot.
French-born national Ziyed Ben Belgacem was shot dead after he attempted to snatch a military policewoman’s gun inside the French capital’s main airport this morning, at about 8.30am.
According to testimony of soldiers who witnessed the attack, he put his air gun to the head of a female soldier and shouted to other soldiers with her: “Put your weapons down, put your hands on your head.
“I am here to die for Allah. In any case, there will be deaths.”
They upgraded their investigation from a criminal one to a terrorist attack as they revealed three people – his cousin, father and brother – are being held in police custody.
François Molins, the chief prosecutor, told a press conference this evening Belgacem’s choice of target and evidence he had been radicalised justified launching a terrorism investigation.
He said Belgacem threw a gasoline canister to the ground then attacked the female soldier by placing a hand airgun to her temple.
He attempted to grab her gun with his left arm and shoved her backwards.
Belgacem was then shot dead by two other soldiers before he could do anything.
The capital’s prosecutor said Belgacem was on probation for burglarly at the time of the attack and was prohibited from leaving the country.
Earlier in the day the 39-year-old had shot at police at a roadside check point in the Saint Denis suburb of Paris just before 7am.
Police chased his black Renault Clio car before he dumped it and he later stole another car by holding a woman at gunpoint and then drove to Orly Airport before attempting to grab the police gun and then running into a McDonald’s after he failed.
He was then shot dead in the main airport thoroughfare.
The attack came as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met survivors of the 2015 Paris attacks in the capital.
Kensington Palace was quick to say William and Kate would continue with their engagements in Paris today, which also included watching the final Six Nations match between France and Wales at Stade du France.
France’s anti-terror prosecutors took over the case this morning and his father and brother handed themselves over to police who are questioning them.
Witnesses described their horror at hearing gun shots in the airport, in a city which has experienced several terror attacks over the past year and a half.
One woman, said: “I was on the ground floor and we heard gun shots, there was complete panic.”
Another man, said: “I thought to myself, I have to get out, I have to get out.
“Then I looked up the stairs and there were soldiers everywhere. It was very scary.”
The 39-year-old had previously been flagged for possible radicalism.
A search of his home turned up machetes, foreign currencies and cocaine, the prosecutor added.
Born in 1978, Belgacem was well-known to police, with nine offences on his criminal record which mainly included narcotics and aggravated burglary offences.
He had not been included on the Terrorist Radicalisation Prevention Reporting File, although police initially said he was a radicalised Muslim – then took back their comments and have now reiterated them.
Following the Paris attacks in November 2015 by ISIS jihadis, Belgacem’s Paris home was searched.