Man shouts ‘Allahu akbar,’ stabs police officer in the neck at Flint airport
FLINT, MICH. | A Canadian man shouted an Islamist war cry in Arabic before stabbing a police officer in the neck at the Flint airport in a Wednesday attack that’s being investigated as an act of terrorism, federal officials said.
Amor Ftouhi, 49, of Quebec, was immediately taken into custody. A criminal complaint charging him with committing violence at an airport says Mr. Ftouhi asked an officer who subdued him why the officer didn’t kill him.
The attack is being investigated as an act of terrorism, but authorities have no indication at this time that he 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,” Agent Gelios said. “We have no information to suggest any training.”
The criminal complaint says Mr. Ftouhi stabbed Lt. Jeff Neville with a large knife after yelling “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.” According to the FBI, Mr. Ftouhi said something similar to “you have killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die.”
Mr. Ftouhi heard the charge against him Wednesday evening in federal court and will get a court-appointed attorney. Court spokesman David Ashenfelter said Mr. Ftouhi will remain in custody until a bond hearing next Wednesday.
Montreal police spokesman Benoit Boiselle said Wednesday evening that Canadian law enforcement, at the request of the FBI, were searching an apartment building in the east end of Montreal in St-Michel borough.
Canadian TV footage showed police escorting at least one person from the Montreal building where Mr. Ftouhi is believed to have lived.
Lt. Neville was in satisfactory condition after initially being in critical condition, airport police Chief Chris Miller said at a late-afternoon news conference where the charges were announced.
The attack just before 10 a.m. at Bishop International Airport prompted an evacuation and extra security elsewhere in the Michigan city about 50 miles northwest of Detroit. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said President Trump was briefed on the stabbing.
Agent Gelios said Mr. Ftouhi legally entered the U.S. at Champlain, New York, on June 16 and made his way to the Flint airport Wednesday morning.
Mr. 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, Agent Gelios said, describing Mr. Ftouhi as “cooperative” and talking to investigators.
Witnesses described seeing the suspect being led away as Lt. Neville was bleeding, a knife on the ground.
“The cop was on his hands and knees bleeding from his neck,” Ken Brown told The Flint Journal. “I said they need to get him a towel.”
Cherie Carpenter, who was waiting for a flight to Texas to see her new grandchild, told Flint TV station WJRT she saw the attacker being led away in handcuffs. She described the man in custody as appearing “blank, just totally blank.”
Chief Miller said Mr. Neville “fought him to the end,” managing to stop the stabbing and bring Mr. Ftouhi to the ground as Chief Miller and other airport officers arrived to help.
Genesee County Commissioner Mark Young, a friend of Lt. Neville’s who retired from the Genesee County sheriff’s office in 1997, said Lt. Neville left that department two years after him.
Mr. Young said he headed to the airport when he learned about the stabbing Wednesday.
“Things were chaotic, but very well organized and under control — how the sheriff’s department was handling things and how Bishop International was handling things,” he said.
Lt. Jeff Neville was stabbed by a man who screamed “Allahu akbar” at the Flint, Michigan, airport on Wednesday.