Paris Orly airport shooting: Attacker took cocaine and smoked cannabis before taking soldier hostage

Frenchman said he wanted to kill and die in the name of Allah

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A suspected Islamic extremist took cocaine, smoked cannabis and drank alcohol before taking a soldier hostage and being shot dead at Paris Orly airport.

Toxicology tests found traces of the drugs in the blood of Ziyed Ben Belgacem, who said he wanted to kill and die in the name of Allah, the Paris prosecutors’ office said.

He also had 0.93 grams of alcohol per litre of blood when he died, nearly twice the legal limit for driving in France.

Belgacem stopped at a bar in the early hours of the morning before going on to fire a pellet gun at traffic police manning a checkpoint in northern Paris.

The 39-year-old Frenchman, who had a long criminal record of drugs and robbery offences, then attacked the military patrol at the airport around 90 minutes later.

Paris airport evacuated as man shot dead after grabbing soldier’s gun

Belgacem yelled he wanted to die for Allah and said “whatever happens, there will be deaths”, as he wrestled away a soldier’s assault rifle.

He held an air pistol to her head and used her as a shield before he was shot dead by two other soldiers before he could fire the Famas assault rifle in Orly’s busy South Terminal.

Passengers evacuated from Orly airport’s southern terminal after the shooting (Reuters)

In an interview with French radio Europe 1, a man identified as the suspect’s father said Belgacem was not a practising Muslim and drank alcohol.

He said: “My son was never a terrorist. He never attended prayer. He drank. But under the effects of alcohol and cannabis, this is where one ends up.”

Europe 1 did not give the name of the father, who was released from police custody over the weekend. Belgacem’s brother and a cousin were also released.

Belgacem called his father and brother early minutes after he fired at a police traffic patrol, injuring one officer in the face, to say he had made a stupid mistake, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.

The man identified as Belgacem’s father said on Europe 1: “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 told me: ‘I ask for your forgiveness. I’ve screwed up with a gendarme’.”

A subsequent police search of Belgacem’s flat found cocaine, Mr Molins said.

Belgacem had been flagged as having been radicalised during a spell in detention in 2011-2012, the prosecutor said.

His house was among dozens searched in the immediate aftermath of suicide bomb-and-gun attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in November 2015.

Research has shown more than half of European Isis fighters have a criminal past, with recruiters deliberately targeting violent criminals and gang members in search of redemption.

The Orly attack forced both of the airport’s terminals to shut down and evacuate, sent passengers and workers fleeing in panic and trapped hundreds of others aboard planes that had just landed.

Mr Molins said according to the soldiers, the attacker yelled: “Put down your weapons! Put your hands on your head! I am here to die for Allah. Whatever happens, there will be deaths.”

The drama, which caused no injuries except for the light wound to the traffic police officer, further shocked France, which remains under a state of emergency after attacks in the past two years killed 235 people.