A man shouted “Allahu Akbar” before stabbing and critically wounding a police officer in the neck at a Michigan airport.
A Canadian man from Tunisia shouted in Arabic before stabbing a police officer in the neck at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan, in an attack that’s now being investigated as an act of terrorism, federal and court officials said.
The terrorist, Amor Ftouhi, 49, of Montreal, was immediately taken into custody. A criminal complaint charging him with committing violence at an airport says Ftouhi asked an officer who subdued him why he didn’t kill him.
Authorities have no indication at this time as to whether the suspect was involved in a “wider plot,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge David Gelios. “At this time we view him as a lone-wolf attacker,” Gelios said. “We have no information to suggest any training.”
The criminal complaint says Ftouhi stabbed airport police Lt. Jeff Neville with a large knife after yelling “Allahu Akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is greater,” which is typically used by Muslim terrorists during attacks.
According to the FBI, Ftouhi said something similar to “you have killed people in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die.”
More charges against Ftouhi could be filed as prosecutors take the case to a grand jury seeking an indictment, Gelios said. The Flint Journal, citing court officials, said Ftouhi is a dual citizen of Canada and Tunisia.
Neville, initially in critical condition, is now in satisfactory condition, airport police Chief Chris Miller said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference where the charge against Ftouhi was announced.
The attack prompted officials to evacuate and shut down the airport and add security elsewhere in the Michigan city.
Investigation in 2 Countries
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump was briefed on the stabbing, and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the president was “proud of the swift response” by authorities from both the US and Canada.
Police in Canada were searching a Montreal apartment. Montreal police spokesman Benoit Boiselle said officers with their department were assisting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the search on behalf of an FBI request.
Boiselle said three people staying at the residence had been taken in for questioning.
Luciano Piazza, the building landlord, said Ftouhi was not a difficult tenant and that he is married with children.
“I never had any problems with him,” Piazza said. “I’m really surprised. I would see him at least once a month, when he paid his rent.”
Gelios said Ftouhi legally entered the US at Champlain, New York, last week.
Ftouhi spent some time in public, unsecured areas of the airport before going to a restroom where he dropped two bags before attacking the officer with a 12-inch knife that had an 8-inch serrated blade, Gelios said. He described Ftouhi as “cooperative” and talking to investigators.
Miller, the airport chief, said Neville “fought him to the end,” managing to stop the stabbing and bring Ftouhi to the ground as Miller and other officers arrived to help.