2 charged over giving gun to Paris airport attacker

PARIS • French anti-terrorism judges have charged two men suspected of involvement in supplying a weapon to the gunman killed at Paris' Orly airport after attacking soldiers, a judicial source has said.

The suspects, aged 30 and 43, were charged on Friday for "association with terrorist criminals" over the March 18 incident, the latest in France, which remains in a state of emergency after a series of deadly terrorist attacks.

Both men are being held in custody, the source said yesterday. The younger man was also charged with arms possession related to a terror plot. They are both from the Paris area and lived close to the assailant, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, but neither had links with any radical Islamic movements, according to a preliminary investigation.

The 30-year-old, detained last Friday, is suspected of having given Ben Belgacem a revolver a few days before the attack, while the older suspect was present when it was handed over.

The younger man admitted, once in custody, to having been in possession of the gun and to keeping it at his home before Ben Belgacem came to get it, a source close to the investigation said.

The questioning of both men revealed no further details about Ben Belgacem's plans, said the source.

The Orly attack, which came 11/2 months after a similar assault at the world-famous Louvre museum in Paris, bears the hallmarks of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria but has not been claimed by the militant group.

Ben Belgacem was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he attacked the French capital's second-busiest airport, according to judicial sources.

The 39-year-old, born in France to Tunisian parents, grabbed a soldier on patrol at Orly's southern terminal, put a gun to her head and seized her rifle, saying he wanted to "die for Allah".

His father said that his son - who spent time in prison for armed robbery and drug-dealing - was not an extremist.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 26, 2017, with the headline '2 charged over giving gun to Paris airport attacker'. Print Edition | Subscribe