Flint terror suspect ‘strict, quiet’

Jennifer Chambers, The Detroit News

Amor M. Ftouhi, the suspect at the center of a possible terrorism attack at Flint’s Bishop International Airport, is a Tunisian national with dual citizenship in Canada.

Amor M. Ftouhi, 49, is a father of three who worked as a trucker.

Fluent in French, the 49-year-old man is a married father of three who worked as a trucker until two weeks ago and called Canada his home the last 10 years.

But what drove Ftouhi to be at Flint’s airport where he allegedly stabbed Lt. Jeff Neville, an airport police officer, with a 12-inch knife remains unclear. At the moment, Ftouhi remains in federal custody where he is being held on a charge of violence at an international airport, a 20-year felony.

Other details emerged about the man Thursday as authorities piece together his history.

An official with pretrial services in U.S. District Court in Flint said Ftouhi speaks limited English and Ftouhi reported no mental or health issues.

Ftouhi, whose Facebook page states he is a 2009 graduate of O’Sullivan College of Quebec, also was a part-time caretaker at a Montreal apartment building where he lived and had once studied to sell insurance, people who knew him said. Ftouhi has lived there with his wife and three children.

Ftouhi kept the building stairwells clean and always paid his rent on time, said his landlord, Luciano Piazza. He lived in a two-bedroom apartment with his wife and children and was “a good person” who “never made any trouble,” Piazza said.

Meanwhile, Montreal police spokesman Benoit Boiselle said officers with the department were assisting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in a search of the apartment in the city after the FBI requested the investigation. A number of police officers stood guard outside of the apartment building in the east end of Montreal, on Bélair Street in Saint-Michel borough.

Three people staying at the residence had been taken in for questioning, Boiselle said.

Mohcin Asrii, a 27-year-old student who lived directly below Ftouhi’s third-floor apartment, expressed shock that a middle-aged family man could have allegedly carried out the stabbing.

“I knew him well enough to say hello, not much more than that,” he said. “He came across as strict, quiet. He walked with his head down.”

Ftouhi is accused of attacking Neville, who was in full uniform, just before 9:40 a.m. Wednesday, stabbing him in the neck with a knife with a green handle and a black serrated blade marked “Amazon Jungle Survival Knife.” Authorities say Neville fought off his attacker for a minute as other police assisted in subduing the suspect.

The FBI said it would investigate the attack as an “act of terrorism.”

Witnesses say Ftouhi’s face was “totally blank” when he stabbed Neville while yelling “Allahu Akbar,” which means “God is great” in Arabic, authorities said.

According to authorities, Ftouhi continued yelling “Allah” after the stabbing.

“He further exclaimed something similar to ‘You have killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die,’ ” said FBI Special Agent Thomas Sondgeroth in an affidavit.

After he was in custody, Ftouhi allegedly asked an enforcement officer why he didn’t kill him, according to Sondgeroth.

Neville was listed in critical condition but was later upgraded to stable condition, authorities said Thursday.

Before his federal court hearing in Flint on Wednesday, Ftouhi allegedly spit on a law enforcement officer before entering court and was required to wear a mask during the initial part of the hearing, authorities say. His federal mug shot shows him in orange jail clothes with a white mask pulled under his chin.

According to court officials, Ftouhi spit on an officer “at some point” before he got to the federal courthouse in Flint and was brought inside the hearing with a mask on his face.

Ftouhi made his appearance in U.S. District Court in Flint before U.S. Judge Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis.

Davis ordered Ftouhi detained and appointed an attorney from the public defender’s office to represent him. His next court appearance, a detention hearing, is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Flint.


Associated Press contributed.