"Put down your arms, hands on your head!" I am here to die by Allah. Anyway, there are going to be deaths. These are the last words vociferated by Ziyed Ben Belgacem in hall A of the south terminal of Orly airport. On March 18, 2017, at around 8:20 a.m., the 39-year-old Frenchman took a soldier from Operation Sentinel on patrol. He grabs his victim's assault rifle, points a pistol to his temple and threatens two other soldiers. In a violent struggle, the latter manage to fire three times at the assailant and kill him. Their colleague is saved.
This attack, which occurred in the middle of the presidential campaign, resembles in all respects those advocated by jihadist organizations. And yet, after three years of investigation, the terrorist charges have just collapsed. On March 24, the anti-terrorism judge made an order to declare his incompetence, a rare decision. "The terrorist motive could rightly have been drawn ab initio [from the start] from remarks referring to Allah, the operating mode and the target of the attack," wrote the investigating magistrate. On the other hand, the real motivations of Ziyed Ben Belgacem remain unclear in the light of the absence observed by his entourage closest to any religious practice on his part, and the shared observation of great violence as well as multiple drug addiction. "
Alcohol, cocaine and cannabis cocktail
On the day of the events, Ziyed Ben Belgacem was heavily under the influence of alcohol, cocaine and cannabis. "Proportions that could only change his behavior and give free rein to his irascible temper," said the judge, taking up the word close to the analysis of the national anti-terrorist prosecutor (Pnat) in his requisitions.
Did the assailant disguise violent and suicidal impulses under an Islamist varnish? Questions surround his destructive journey, of which the attack on Orly was only the last act. An unfathomable leak ahead of an hour and a half. Around 6:55 am that day, Ben Belgacem was checked on board his Clio in his commune of Garge-les-Gonèsse (Val-d'Oise) because he was traveling at excessive speed. Its windshield presents a bullet impact. While the police are checking his identity documents, he suddenly draws a 9 mm shotgun hidden in a satchel. Then shot the officials several times, injuring one in the face, before fleeing.
"I made a mistake. I beg your pardon, dad. It's the end of my life. "
At 7 a.m., the madman burst into the Le Dolce bar in Vitry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne), where he had already spent part of the night drinking until 5 a.m. He then threatened customers with his weapon. Being a regular, it is not taken seriously. Which makes him mad with rage. He opened fire in all directions without causing serious injuries. Before the terrorized assembly, he uttered aloud the idea of raising the curtains of the establishment "so that BFM could film the kidnapping". Finally, he fled again, taking away cans of petrol.
He travels a few kilometers, abandons his Clio then steers the car of a motorist. Before ending his disastrous journey at Orly. In the meantime, he phones his father and says, "I made a mistake. I beg your pardon, dad. It's the end of my life. "
No sign of radicalization
Before the investigators of the Paris criminal brigade, the latter described his son as a non-practicing Muslim "who hates bearded men". Two relatives of Ben Belgacem, with whom he was in frequent contact, are indicted for "criminal terrorist criminal association". In police custody, Moussa B. and Mohamed A. speak of the attacker as someone impulsive, angry and unpredictable, "who lost his head a little" and "had hate". Ben Belgacem was known for delinquency, having spent time in prison, but was in no way recorded S. No signs of radicalization were detected in this man who was totally dependent on alcohol and drugs.
In his order of March 24, the anti-terrorism judge noted that "the investigations have not made it possible to establish the precise reasons for the act of Ziyed Ben Belgacem, due to his death" but notes "that he has acted alone ". "It does not follow from the elements of the file that Moussa B. and Mohamed A. formed a group or an agreement with Ziyed Ben Belgacem having as their object the preparation of the acts committed by [this one], of which we also know that the terrorist motive raises questions ”, concludes the magistrate. Which should result in a dismissal for the two indicted. All that remains is the offense of weapons legislation alleged against the suspect who had handed over the shotgun to the assailant. But the terrorist charges having gone, the magistrate is no longer competent. This aspect will be tried before a criminal court of ordinary law and not a special assize court.
Newsletter - The essentials of the newsEvery morning, the news seen by Le Parisien
Your email address is collected by Le Parisien to allow you to receive our news and commercial offers. Find out more
"It is rare that anti-terrorist judges take responsibility for disqualifying an attack and do not give in to the automaticity of the terrorist qualification, welcomes Me Joseph Hazan, lawyer for one of the accused. The absence of a terrorist motive reflects on the qualification of those indicted. My client has always challenged any jihadist ideology, for him as well as for the author he knew. "
On the side of the civil parties, the absence of a trial for terrorism does not provoke an outcry. "My clients, who are legal and investigative professionals, understand this decision," reacts Mr. Daniel Merchat, counsel for the police officers attacked. “We expected this given the elements of the file and the death of the author, supports Me Géraldine Berger-Stenger, lawyer for two clients of the bar Le Dolce and the French Association of Victims of Terrorism (AFVT). My clients are not surprised but disappointed. They hope that the case will be judged quickly before a common law jurisdiction to finally turn this page of their existence. "