Amor Ftouhi, a Canadian citizen originally from Tunisia, was identified as the “lone wolf” suspect accused of shouting “Allahu Akbar” before stabbing a police officer multiple times at an airport in Flint, Michigan.
The FBI is leading the incident into the attack that wounded police Lt. Jeff Neville. Neville is now in stable condition, although he was initially in critical condition after the attack.
Ftouhi, 49, was identified at an early evening press conference. He is being charged with committing an act of violence at an airport, said David Lemisch, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. It is not clear if he could face additional federal or state charges as the investigation continues. Ftouhi was expected to make his first appearance Wednesday in federal court in Flint, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
According to prosecutors, Ftouhi walked up to Neville, who was in full uniform, and stabbed him in the neck. He then shouted “Allahu Akbar,” and referenced “killings in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
Authorities said in a June 22 news conference that Ftouhi allegedly tried unsuccessfully to buy a gun in the United States before the attack and purchased the knife in the U.S. They said they were still investigating whether the attack was an act of terrorism.
Amor M. Ftouhi legally entered the United States through New York on June 16, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ftouhi Shouted ‘You Have Killed People in Syria, Iraq & Afghanistan & We Are All Going to Die,’ Prosecutors Say
Due in part to the suspect’s alleged utterance, the attack on Neville is being investigated as a possible terrorist attack. FBI officials called Ftouhi a “lone wolf attacker” during a news conference.
“The stabbing of a police officer at a Michigan airport on Wednesday is being investigated by the FBI as a possible terror attack,” Fox News reported.
The June 21 attack remains under investigation, and President Donald Trump has been briefed on it.
According to the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the suspect, Amor Ftouhi, was also yelling about Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan during the attack. At one point he said, “you have killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and we are all going to die.”
He also yelled “Allah” several times, and asked the police officer who arrested him why the officer did not kill him, according to the complaint.
You can read the criminal complaint filed against Ftouhi below:
In an earlier statement, the FBI said the incident was isolated, and the agency is still investigating the motive. Ftouhi was accused of using a knife to “perform an act of violence against another individual at Bishop International Airport.”
“This morning, law enforcement officers from a number of organizations, including the FBI’s office in Flint, Michigan, responded to Flint’s Bishop International Airport after receiving the report of a stabbing of an airport police officer who is presently considered to be in stable condition,” the FBI said. “The suspect was taken into custody at the airport and is currently being questioned by law enforcement officers.”
The FBI said right after the attack that it was too early to say whether the attack was an “act of terrorism.”
“The FBI, with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, is jointly investigating this incident to determine the nature and motive for the attack. We are aware of reports that the attacker made statements immediately prior to or while attacking the officer, but it is too early to determine the nature of these alleged statements or whether or not this was an act of terrorism,” the FBI said. “Based on the information that we have at this time, we believe this to be an isolated incident. We currently have no specific, credible information that there is a threat to the Flint community.”
Authorities have search Ftouhi’s car, but they did not release what was found. They said they do not believe that Ftouhi was part of a larger plot.
2. Raids Related to the Flint Attack Were Reported Near Ftouhi’s Montreal Home
Raids were being carried out Wednesday in Montreal, the CBC reports. According to the Canadian news network, the police operation targeted an apartment on Bélair Street connected to Amor Ftouhi.
Canadian federal Public Security Minister Ralph Goodale condemned the “heinous and cowardly attack” in a statement. He said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are assisting the FBI in the investigation. At least three people were being questioned after the raid on the apartment.
“SPVM policemen arrested three individuals on rue Bélair in the St-Michel district on Wednesday afternoon,” reported Le Presse.
Allahu Akbar is a phrase that has been shouted by by suspects during various terrorist attacks, especially in Europe, which has been hammered by a series of ISIS affiliated attacks.
Authorities said that Ftouhi was not on their radar before coming to the United States. They said he had no travel documents suggesting he was coming to Flint.
Although they know how he entered the United States, they declined to reveal the information at the June 22 news conference.
The earliest date they can place him in Michigan is June 18, they said.
The man who “stabbed a police officer at the airport in Flint, Mich., on Wednesday shouted “Allahu Akbar” before the attack,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
The government of Canada released a statement. It said, “Canada condemns this heinous and cowardly act. Our thoughts and sympathies are with the officer and his loved ones.” “Our government and law enforcement agencies are engaged and are cooperating fully with our American counterparts and assisting them in every way possible.”
The knife used in the attack had a green handle and a black serrated blade and was marked Amazon Jungle Survival Knife, the charging document says.
3. Officer Neville Was Left Bleeding From the Neck
Witnesses described a horrific scene in which the officer fell to his knees while bleeding from the neck. Neville is an airport security officer. “Witnesses have described seeing a man led away in handcuffs by police, Neville bleeding from his neck and knife on the ground,” CTV News in Montreal reported. The suspect was described by witnesses as having a “husky build” and a “blank” look on his face.
According to the FBI, Ftouhi used a 12-inch blade in the attack. The criminal charges in the case allege that Neville was able to subdue Ftoui, who is accused of asking Neville why he didn’t kill him.
The criminal charges reported that Neville, a lieutenant, was stabbed multiple times in the neck. He was initially listed in critical condition, but he has stabilized, authorities said.
According to ABC 12, “Neville was at his post at the top of the escalators at Bishop when he was attacked from behind with a larger knife, similar to a Bowie knife.”
Neville “worked for the sheriff’s office for 20 years, from 1982-2002. He is currently second in command with airport police at Bishop,” reported ABC 12.
Neville was called a “true professional” and honorable cop in statements to MLive.
4. Ftouhi Is Originally From Tunisia & Worked for an Insurance Company
Ftouhi said on Facebook that he was originally from Tunis, Tunisia, but he lived in Montreal, Canada. He wrote that he worked for a Canadian insurance company and had studied at faculté des sciences humaines et sociales de tunis and Collège O’Sullivan.
He only had three friends on Facebook and had shared posts in Arabic. He played computer games on Facebook, including one called Army Attack.
Due to the possible nexus to terror, the FBI has joined state troopers and the ATF in investigating the Flint airport attack.
Bishop International Airport was evacuated when the attack occurred, the airport said in a statement on Facebook. Officers were stationed at Flint City Hall as a matter of precaution, according to ABC 12.
Mohamed Bouhlel, the terrorist who used a truck to ram into a crowd at Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France last summer, was also from Tunisia. Tunisia has become a leading source of ISIS recruits, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
It’s not clear whether Ftouhi had any ties to ISIS.
5. Ftouhi Is Accused of Going Into an Airport Restaurant & Bathroom Before the Attack
The criminal complaint provides details of the attack.
It accuses Ftouhi of entering the first level of Bishop International Airport at about 8:52 a.m. on June 21, carrying red duffel and dark satchel bags. At 9:10, he went up an escalator to the second level of the airport. He turned left to go to a restaurant and left the restaurant at about 9:37 a.m., the complaint alleges. He was carrying both bags and then entered a second-floor restaurant at 9:38. He left a few seconds later without either bag. At 9:38, he is accused of attacking the officer.
Europe has been rocked by a series of terrorist attacks, often fueled by ISIS adherents.
Most recently, a terrorist tried unsuccessfully to detonate a suicide bomb in Brussels, Belgium. Terrorists influenced by ISIS have also struck in Germany, France, and England. Attacks at airports are among the terrorists’ most common MO.
Filmmaker Michael Moore, who is from Flint, is receiving criticism on social media for saying the media should call both Michigan’s governor and Ftouhi terrorists. “Any media calling Flint airport stabbing an ‘act of terror’ when you’ve NEVER referred 2 the Governor poisoning ppl of Flint as terrorism: FU,” Moore wrote, referring to the Flint water crisis.