Paris Orly Airport: Assailant shouted ‘I’m here to die in the name of Allah’

Updated 5:50 PM EDT, Sat March 18, 2017
French policemen and firefighters secure the area at Paris
French policemen and firefighters secure the area at Paris' Orly airport on March 18, 2017 following the shooting of a man by French security forces.
PHOTO: CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
03:40
Official: Paris airport attacker praised Allah
Barrie
Barrie's aunt speaks about how the police brought her the news about the death of her nephew Ibrahima.
PHOTO: VTM
Now playing
01:26
Aunt of Black man who died after arrest in Belgium: We want justice
screengrab US social media
screengrab US social media
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
04:35
Tech companies ban Trump, but not other problematic leaders
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13:  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) presides over the vote to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump for the second time in little over a year in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. The House voted to impeach Trump on the charge of "incitement of insurrection," 232-197 after a mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol where Congress was working to certify the Electoral College victory of President-elect Joe Biden on January 6. 10 Republicans voted to impeach. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) presides over the vote to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump for the second time in little over a year in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. The House voted to impeach Trump on the charge of "incitement of insurrection," 232-197 after a mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol where Congress was working to certify the Electoral College victory of President-elect Joe Biden on January 6. 10 Republicans voted to impeach. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Now playing
02:35
How the world is reacting to Trump's second impeachment
Indonesia sriwijay air crash search for victims wang pkg intl hnk vpx_00000920.png
Indonesia sriwijay air crash search for victims wang pkg intl hnk vpx_00000920.png
Now playing
02:21
Family members wait in anguish as search for crash victims continues
africa china coronavirus vaccine diplomacy lu stout pkg vpx _00025522.png
africa china coronavirus vaccine diplomacy lu stout pkg vpx _00025522.png
PHOTO: CCTV
Now playing
03:09
How China is hoping to use its vaccine as a diplomatic tool
PHOTO: CIRO FUSCO/AFP/ANSA/AFP via Getty Images
Now playing
00:38
Huge sinkhole appears in Italian hospital parking lot
TOPSHOT - Rescue workers carry recovered debris at the port in Jakarta on January 10, 2021, during the search operation for Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 which crashed after takeoff from Jakarta on January 9. (Photo by Dany Krisnadhi / AFP) (Photo by DANY KRISNADHI/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Rescue workers carry recovered debris at the port in Jakarta on January 10, 2021, during the search operation for Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 which crashed after takeoff from Jakarta on January 9. (Photo by Dany Krisnadhi / AFP) (Photo by DANY KRISNADHI/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Dany Krisnadhi/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:16
Indonesian jetliner crashes after taking off from Jakarta
 HONG KONG PRO DEMOCRACY ACTIVIST VENTUS LAU BEING ESCORTED BY POLICE.
HONG KONG PRO DEMOCRACY ACTIVIST VENTUS LAU BEING ESCORTED BY POLICE.
PHOTO: VENTUS LAU FACEBOOK PAGE/Reuters
Now playing
03:15
See Hong Kong police arrest former pro-democracy lawmakers
Tensions between the United States and Iran are likely to further escalate once again after Tehran seized a South Korean-flagged chemical tanker in the Persian Gulf, according to semi-official Iranian news agencies, and announced it had resumed enriching uranium to 20% purity, far beyond the limits laid out in the 2015 nuclear deal. President Donald Trump walked away from the agreement in 2018. CNN
Tensions between the United States and Iran are likely to further escalate once again after Tehran seized a South Korean-flagged chemical tanker in the Persian Gulf, according to semi-official Iranian news agencies, and announced it had resumed enriching uranium to 20% purity, far beyond the limits laid out in the 2015 nuclear deal. President Donald Trump walked away from the agreement in 2018. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.
PHOTO: YJC
Now playing
02:37
Footage shows chemical tanker seized by Iranian forces
A European health worker prepares a shot of the coronavirus vaccine.
A European health worker prepares a shot of the coronavirus vaccine.
PHOTO: Reuters
Now playing
02:14
Frustration in Europe over pace of coronavirus vaccine rollout
Jack Ma, the co-chair of the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, founder of Alibaba Group, attends the Bund Summit in Shanghai. He says that the essence of finance is credit management. We must change the pawnshop idea of Finance and rely on the credit system. Shanghai, China, 24 October 2020.

Jack Ma, the co-chair of the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, founder of Alibaba Group, attended the Bund Summit in Shanghai. He says that the essence of finance is credit management. We must change the pawnshop idea of Finance and rely on the credit system.No Use China. No Use France.
Jack Ma, the co-chair of the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, founder of Alibaba Group, attends the Bund Summit in Shanghai. He says that the essence of finance is credit management. We must change the pawnshop idea of Finance and rely on the credit system. Shanghai, China, 24 October 2020. Jack Ma, the co-chair of the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, founder of Alibaba Group, attended the Bund Summit in Shanghai. He says that the essence of finance is credit management. We must change the pawnshop idea of Finance and rely on the credit system.No Use China. No Use France.
PHOTO: Zhao Yun/Oriental Image/Reuters
Now playing
03:05
Chinese tech tycoon has not been seen in months
Now playing
02:19
Country has 2nd highest Covid-19 cases. See their vaccine plan
Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg arrives for a meeting at the Europa building in Brussels on March 5, 2020. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP) (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)
Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg arrives for a meeting at the Europa building in Brussels on March 5, 2020. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP) (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:24
Greta Thunberg urges public to listen to the experts (2020)
Now playing
01:00
Boris Johnson condemns Trump's actions
Bystanders and a soldier stand near a damaged portion of the airport of Yemen
Bystanders and a soldier stand near a damaged portion of the airport of Yemen's southern city of Aden's after an explosion, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. The blast struck the airport building shortly after a plane carrying the newly formed Cabinet landed on Wednesday. No one on the government plane was hurt. (AP Photo/Majid Saleh)
PHOTO: Majid Saleh/AP
Now playing
02:27
See moment of deadly explosion at Yemen airport

Story highlights

NEW: Attacker also fired four shots at a bar Saturday morning. No one hurt.

Female soldier was used as shield, prosecutor says, until suspect rose and was shot

(CNN) —  

A man holding a gun on a French female soldier at Orly Airport shouted, “I am here to die in the name of Allah … There will be deaths,” before two of the soldier’s comrades shot the attacker dead Saturday morning, a prosecutor told reporters.

None of the soldiers were wounded, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said. The suspect, identified by Molins as Ziyed Ben Belgacem also is accused of shooting a police officer earlier in the day when he stole the officer’s weapon. That officer has non-life-threatening wounds, officials said.

Molins said the suspect had been imprisoned several times on violence and theft convictions, including one five-year stint that began in 2009.

French terrorism investigators will lead the inquiry into the attacks, Molins said.

When Belgacem got to Orly Airport in the southern outskirts of Paris, he went to the South Terminal, carrying a weapon and a can of gas in his rucksack, Molins said.

He grabbed the female soldier and used her as a shield. They struggled over her weapon, the prosecutor said. With the soldier down on her knees, the suspect rose enough for the other two soldiers to shoot him several times. The whole scene unfolded in just a couple of minutes, Molins said.

Three relatives of the suspect were later taken into custody, Molins said. Belgacem’s plans are unclear, he said, adding that an investigation will determine whether he acted as a “lone wolf.”

Prior attack on Saturday

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

• 6:55 a.m.: Shoots police officer after being stopped for speeding and driving with headlights turned off near Stains, in northern suburbs of Paris.

• Time not given: Goes to a bar in Vitry-sur-Seine where he had been until 3 a.m. and fires four shots with gun stolen from police officer. No one is wounded.

• Short time later: Drives from bar (where he leaves cell phone), carjacks a new vehicle

8:06 a.m. – Arrives at Orly airport

About 16 minutes later, Belgacem assaulted the soldier.

Hours after the airport incident, police launched an operation in the same northern Paris suburb where the officer was shot, the National Police tweeted. The agency did not specify the reason for the operation.

Police were questioning Belgacem’s father and brother, Thibault-Lecuivre said. The attacker, who was born in 1978, was under supervision by authorities, Molins said, echoing Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux’s earlier comments that Belgacem was known to intelligence services.

Soldiers lauded for response

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian commended the soldiers who responded to the airport threat.

They responded with “remarkable professionalism and self-control” to protect their colleague and the public, he said.

This was the fourth attack against security forces deployed as part of France’s Operation Sentinel, Le Drian said. The national security operation was launched following the Paris terror attacks in January 2015; France has been under a state of emergency since November that year.

Le Roux also praised the swift response of security forces at the airport.

President François Hollande said the incident demonstrated that the ongoing national security operation – which has placed extra security forces at airports, train stations and other public places – is “absolutely essential” to keep people safe.

“I want to salute the courage and the exceptional behavior of the security forces who managed to put away the individual and to do so in an extremely complex situation because this occurred in Orly Airport,” he said at a news conference.

The anti-terrorism prosecutor is investigating the motives and circumstances of Saturday’s attack and the existence of any accomplices, according to a presidential statement.

Politicians add praise

French police secure the area at Orly airport on Saturday.
French police secure the area at Orly airport on Saturday.
PHOTO: CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

France’s presidential candidates, who are campaigning ahead of next month’s first round of voting, took to Twitter to pay tribute to the response by the police and the military.

Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist, said the military “once again showed their professionalism this morning in Orly.”

François Fillon, of the centre-right Republican party, said: “Tribute to the men and women of Sentinel who work for our security and once again displayed courage and efficiency.”

Marine Le Pen, presidential candidate for the far-right Front National party, said: “France brimming over with violence, a consequence of the lax successive governments. But there is the bravery of our soldiers!”

Bomb squad called in

The airport was evacuated as an elite operations unit and bomb squad officers rushed to the scene. The bomb squad finished its search for explosives but did not immediately report the findings, local authorities said. More than 450 officers were involved in the operation to secure the airport and search for evidence, France’s National Police said.

Paris Airports, the group that manages the city’s airports, said both Orly terminals were reopening Saturday afternoon after a suspension of several hours. Travelers should check with their airlines before heading to the airport, it added. Some earlier flights were rerouted to Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport.

Travel for about 2,000 people had been severely disrupted, the president of Paris Airports, Augustin de Romanet, told CNN.

“It has been very disruptive, because we could fear many, many things, but all the police forces and the army have been very effective, so everything is OK now,” he said.

With roads around the airport closed off by police as the security operation unfolded, travelers earlier tried to make their way to the airport on foot with their baggage.

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

CNN’s Melissa Bell reported from Paris and Laura Smith-Spark reported and wrote from London. CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne and Pierre-Eilott Buet contributed to this report.