Federal officials say the man accused of stabbing an airport officer in Flint tried to buy a gun on his way to the city.
A picture is beginning to emerge of 49-year-old Canadian Amor Ftouhi, who the FBI says entered the U.S. late last week through the state of New York.
FBI Special Agent in Charge David Gelios says Ftouhi came to the U.S. searching for a weapon.
“I will simply say that we have information that Ftouhi attempted to try a gun in the United States and was unsuccessful in that attempt. I won’t speak to where he tried to buy a gun,” Gelios says.
Ftouhi eventually obtained a 12-inch “Amazon Jungle Survival Knife,” which he is accused of using to attack the airport officer.
“(He) made a statement, something to the effect of ‘You have killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and we are all going to die.’ ” — FBI Special Agent in Charge David Gelios
The FBI is investigating the stabbing as an act of terror.
It was around 9:40 Wednesday morning when investigators say Quebec native Ftouhi came out of a public bathroom at Flint’s Bishop International Airport.
He was in an area of the main terminal not covered by security scanners.
The FBI’s Gelios says Ftouhi lunged at airport police officer Lt. Jeff Neville, stabbing him in the neck while shouting “God is great” in Arabic.
Gelios adds, “(Ftouhi) continued to exclaim Allah and he made a statement something to the effect of ‘You have killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan’ and we are all going to die.”
Neville fought back even as he bled, until Ftouhi was handcuffed and taken into custody.
A criminal complaint against him says Ftouhi questioned why police did not kill him.
Neville underwent surgery and is listed in satisfactory condition.
Now investigators are trying to piece together why Ftouhi allegedly conducted what the FBI is calling an act of terror.
Officials won’t comment publicly yet on any potential motive.
They do say Ftouhi appears to have been working alone, with no immediate signs that he had received any kind of special combat training.
Canadian police say they responded to a request from the FBI and raided an apartment in Montreal where Ftouhi is thought to have lived.
Video footage revealed at least one person being taken from the building.
Ftouhi himself appeared in federal court hours after the attack, charged with committing violence at an airport.
He faces a bond hearing next week.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder tweeted that despite the attack, officials need to “balance increased security with understanding and tolerance.”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed in a statement that Ftouhi will be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”