PARIS – Paris’ top prosecutor has identified the attacker who was killed on Saturday at Orly Airport outside France’s capital after he attacked a military patrol in the name of Allah and tried to seize a soldier’s gun.
Paris Prosecutor François Molins said the attacker’s name was Ziyed Ben Belgacem, 39, a man with a criminal record who had served three prison sentences for armed robbery and drug trafficking.
He had also been watched by French intelligence services for his radicalization, Molins said.
He became radicalized after serving time in prison between 2011-2012, which in turn led to his home being searched under the state of emergency decreed in 2015, but nothing suspicious was found.
Anti-terrorist services of the Public Prosecutor’s Office will lead the investigation, in which three people – the father, brother and a cousin of the attacker – are being interrogated.
Belgacem’s home in Garge-les-Gonesse, on the northern outskirts of Paris, was searched, but again nothing important was found, only some cocaine, a machete and a certain amount of foreign currency.
The attack by Belgacem – a French national born in Paris – caused the airport to be evacuated, which meant that 3,000 people had to be moved out for fear the aggressor was packing explosives, while the airport was closed to air traffic and over 100 flights were canceled.
Earlier in the day, Belgacem had shot and slightly wounded a police officer.
French President François Hollande, Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian praised the work of soldiers and police.
Le Drian recalled that this is the fourth attack suffered by a military unit on anti-terrorist watch, the most recent being last month in the Louvre.
Early in the afternoon, after determining there were no explosives on the scene, the airport gradually reopened, though a totally normal situation will not be seen there until Sunday, authorities said.