Father of Paris Orly Airport Attacker Insists Son Was Not Terrorist

Father of Paris Orly Airport Attacker Insists Son Was Not Terrorist

French officials are conducting an autopsy to determine whether a suspected Islamic extremist was drunk or high on drugs when he took a soldier hostage at Orly Airport in Paris and was shot dead by her fellow patrolmen.

At 8.22 a.m., Molins said, Belgacem grabbed a female soldier who was patrolling the terminal from behind and put his gun to her head. The two other soldiers then opened fire, killing him.No one else was injured in the melee.

Anti-terror investigators yesterday released the father of the assailant but were continuing to hold his brother and cousin as they sought to build a profile of Ziyed Ben Belgacem (39), a Frenchman.

His father has insisted this was not an act of terrorism, and the cause was down to the substances Begacem had consumed. Operation Sentinelle was launched after the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015, with over 7,500 armed soldiers on the streets of Paris and across France.

The attack forced the airport's terminals to shut down and evacuate, while passengers and workers were fleeing in panic and hundreds of others remained aboard flights that had just landed.

Police say he then stole a vehicle at gunpoint from a woman at Vitry, south of Paris.

Orly, Paris' second-biggest airport behind Charles de Gaulle, has both domestic and global flights and the 8:30 a.m. (0730 GMT; 4:30 a.m. EDT) assault brought its operations to a screeching halt. It handles most domestic fights and some worldwide ones and served 31.2 million passengers in 2016, according to the Paris Airport Authority.

"He called me at seven, eight in the morning and said: 'There you go, Papa.' He was extremely angry, even his mother couldn't understand him", he said.

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The BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris says the picture is building up of a man on the criminal fringes of society, who also consorted with Islamist radicals.

"He told me, "I ask for your forgiveness, I've screwed up with a gendarme".

"He never prayed. He drank and under the effect of alcohol and cannabis looks what happens".

The soldier was "psychologically shocked" but unhurt by the "rapid and violent" assault, said Col. Benoit Brulon, a spokesman for the military force that patrols public sites in France. France has been under a state of emergency since November that year.

Molins said Belgacem was involved in several incidents before heading to the airport.

Police teams quickly secured the airport and searched for explosives, but found none.

Paris Orly Airport is France's second-busiest airport, with global and domestic air traffic.

By Sunday morning, Paris Airports, the group that manages the city's airports, tweeted, "Traffic resuming gradually".

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