World

Father of Orly Airport attacker: My son was not a terrorist

PARIS The father of the French man shot dead at Orly Airport in Paris after attacking a soldier said yesterday that his son was "not a terrorist".

He said the actions were caused by drink and drugs.

The father of Ziyed Ben Belgacem told France's Europe 1 radio: "My son was not a terrorist. He never prayed, and he drank. This is what happens under the influence of drink and cannabis."

Ben Belgacem, 39, on Saturday morning grabbed a soldier on patrol and put a gun to her head. He seized her assault rifle, saying he wanted to "die for Allah" and kill others, before being shot dead by the soldier's two colleagues.

The attack came two hours after Ben Belgacem, who had several convictions for armed robbery, fired on police after being pulled over for speeding.

An officer was lightly injured in that attack, which set in motion a series of events culminating with Ben Belgacem's death.

The father, who was released from police custody yesterday after questioning, said his son phoned him minutes after that shooting "in a state of extreme agitation", AFP reported.

"He said to me: 'Daddy, please forgive me. I've screwed up with a police officer.'"

Ben Belgacem then cut short the conversation and drove to the airport.

His father presented himself at a police station, where he was later informed of his son's death.

Ben Belgacem's brother and cousin, who came forward for questioning on Saturday, are still being quizzed by anti-terror investigators.

On his body, police found a Quran and 750 euros (S$1,130) in cash. At his home, they found cocaine, a machete and some foreign currency, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told Reuters.

An autopsy was to be carried out yesterday to determine if he was under the effects of alcohol or drugs during the attack, the sources said.

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