Autopsy due on Orly 'terror' attacker as father blames drugs and alcohol

Jen Offord
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins

Ziyed Ben Belgacem, the man shot dead at Orly airport in Paris after attempting to seize a soldier's gun before taking her hostage on Saturday (18 March), was not motivated by terrorist sympathies, his father said on Sunday. He argued that his son was not devout, but that alcohol and marijuana had altered his state of mind.

Belgacem, 39, was reported to have shouted, "I am here to die for Allah", and French authorities said he was known to police as a radicalised Muslim. However, speaking to French radio station Europe 1 on Sunday, Belgacem's father denied his son was a terrorist.

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Belgacem's father, who has not been named, said: "My son was not a terrorist. He never prayed and he drank."

He added: "This is what happens under the influence of drink and cannabis."

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AP reported that cocaine was found in Belgacem's flat and that French officials would now conduct an autopsy to determine whether he was intoxicated by alcohol or drugs at the time of the attack. Earlier in the morning, before the attempted attack in the airport, Belgacem injured a police traffic patrol officer in the face after shooting her.

The father and brother of Egyptian Belgacem were subsequently interviewed by police.

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His father said: "He [Belgacem] 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 told me, 'I ask for your forgiveness. I've screwed up with a gendarme.'"

The incident is one in a string of attacks on France, including a series of gun attacks in November 2015 that left 130 dead, and in Nice last year when a lorry ploughed into crowds at a Bastille Day celebration killing 86.

AP reports that Beglacem's house was searched after the November 2015 attacks in Paris.

As the injured police woman's injuries not life-threatening, Belgacem was the only fatal casualty in the attack.

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