Paris airport attacker was under drugs, alcohol

Blood tests find that suspected Islamic extremist who took soldier hostage at Orly Airport was under influence of drugs and alcohol.

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Ben Ariel,

Emergency services at Orly airport
Emergency services at Orly airport

Blood tests determined on Sunday that a suspected Islamic extremist who took a soldier hostage at Paris's Orly Airport and was shot dead by her fellow patrolmen was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

The Paris prosecutors' office said toxicology tests conducted as part of an autopsy found traces of cocaine and cannabis in the blood of the suspect, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, according to The Associated Press.

He also had 0.93 grams of alcohol per liter of blood when he died, nearly twice the legal limit for driving in France, according to the prosecutors' office.

Belgacem, 39, has a long criminal record of drugs and robbery offences. He stopped at a local bar in the wee hours Saturday morning, around four hours before he first fired bird shot at traffic police. Then, 90 minutes later, he attacked the military patrol at Orly, causing panic and the shutdown of the airport.

Yelling that he wanted to “kill and die for Allah”, Belgacem wrestled away a soldier's assault rifle but was shot to death by two other soldiers before he could fire it, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said, according to AP.

Belgacem called his father and brother early Saturday morning, minutes after he fired at a police traffic patrol, to say that he had made “a stupid mistake”, said Molins.

A subsequent police search of Belgacem's flat found cocaine, he added.

The incident at the airport rattled France, which remains under a state of emergency after attacks the past two years that have killed 235 people.

Last month, a 29-year-old Egyptian armed with machetes attacked four soldiers on patrol outside the Louvre museum, crying “Allahu Akbar”.

He was shot and seriously injured by one of the soldiers.

French police have made several arrests of suspected terrorists, including four members of a family who were arrested earlier this month in connection with a plot to carry out an attack.