The gunman who attacked soldiers at Orly airport in Paris, France, on Saturday had phoned his father and told him that he had “screwed up” earlier and wanted forgiveness.
Ziyed Ben Belgacem, 39, was shot dead after having put a gun against a soldier’s head. At that moment he said that he wanted to “die for Allah“.
In events preceeding the airport incident, Ziyad Ben Belgacem was involved in a shooting which followed a carjacking.
The gunaman’s father told the French radio that his son had phoned after the first attack to say how he had “screwed up with a gendarme”, before continuing his trip towards the Orly airport.
Belgacem was already on a police watch-list and was described as having become radicalized in prison.
Francois Molins, the head prosecutor in Paris, stated that Belgacem already had a criminal record including convictions for armed robbery and drug offences.
After the attack, the intelligence agents searched his home in Garges-le-Gonesse, which is located north of Paris. They were searching for evidence of Islamist sympathies, but reportedly found nothing. What they found though, was traces of cocaine in the premises.
Saturday morning early hours, Belgacem was halted at a checkpoint in Garges-les-Gonesse, north of Paris.
At this moment, he fired at the police with a pellet gun, before making an escape in a car later found abandoned.
According to the Police, Belgacem then stole a car at gunpoint from a woman in Vitry, south of Paris. That car was later found at the Orly airport.
2) After having arrived at the Paris Orly airport, Belgacem attacked a military patrol in the south terminal.
He had attempted to seize a 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.”
Two other soldiers shot him dead before he was able to fire his gun.
Photo: Riot police inside Orly airport after the resumption of flights
A copy of the Koran was found on his body. Both his father and brother were taken in for questioning in the aftermath of the attack. The brother remains in custody.
Speaking to Europe 1 radio on Sunday, the father said his son was not a terrorist, but someone who “never prayed and he drank”.
“This is what happens under the influence of drink and cannabis” the father added.
He said he had received a phone call from Belgacem after his initial attack in which he said: “Dad, please forgive me. I’ve screwed up with a police officer.” Then he hung up after saying he was on the motorway.
The profile being built up of the attacker is becoming that of a man on the criminal fringes of society, who also consorted with Islamist radicals.
Orly – located 13km (8 miles) south of Paris – is the capital’s second-largest airport.
The attack came at a sensitive time. France has presidential elections starting next month and remains under a state of emergency.
The soldiers at Orly were part of Operation Sentinel – involving thousands of soldiers deployed to provide back-up to the police after the Charile Hebdo attack in January 2015 and the Paris attacks of November 2015.