FLINT, Mich. (WWJ) – The stabbing of a police officer at Bishop International Airport in Flint is being investigated as a terrorist attack.
The airport was evacuated following the incident at around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday inside the airport along I-75 near I-69.
David Gelios, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI, says Lt. Jeff Neville was stabbed in the neck by a 49-year-old Canadian man who shouted the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar,” which means God is great.
As he stabbed Neville, the FBI says Amor M. Ftouhi continued to exclaim,”Allah”, and referenced killings in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — adding something to the effect of “you are all going to die.”
He was taken down by police and arrested at the scene.
The weapon, Gelios said, was a knife about 12 inches long with an 8-inch serrated blade.
One witness, Cherie Carpenter, told Flint TV station WJRT she saw the attacker’s face as he was led away in handcuffs. She said the man had a husky build and a “blank, just totally blank” expression.
Police initially reported Neville was in critical condition, but he underwent surgery and was upgraded to stable condition. He remains hospitalized but is expected to fully recover. No one else was hurt.
Gelios said Ftouhi, a resident of Quebec, entered the U.S. legally in Lake Champlain, New York on June 16, making his way to Flint and arriving at the airport Wednesday morning. He left his baggage in the restroom prior to the stabbing.
At this time it is believed that Ftouhi was “a lone wolf attacker.”
“Based on the information we have presently, we don’t believe that anyone was involved with this individual,” Gelios said. “We have no information to suggest a wider plot, but it’s certainly very, very early in the investigation.”
Gelios said Ftouhi has already been interviewed extensively by investigators.
“He was cooperative and has talked to us about what his motivations were; and I think, suffice it to say he has a hatred for the United States and a variety of other things which in part motivated him towards coming to the airport today to conduct this act of violence.”
Gelios added that he does not believe Ftouhi was on a terrorist watch list.
Ftouhi will be making an appearance in federal court in Flint on Wednesday and will later be arraigned in Detroit. He is initially charged with committing an act of violence at an airport, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Gelios noted that additional charges are possible as an investigation continues. Search warrant are being sought for Ftouhi’s phone, vehicle and electronic media.
The airport was closed for hours following the stabbing, but reopened at around 4 p.m. Passengers are urged to check with their airline for updates regarding flight cancellations and delays.