FLINT (WJRT) (11/13/2018) – A jury needed only about an hour of deliberations to convict Amor Ftouhi of terrorism charges in the June 2017 Bishop International Airport stabbing case.
The native Tunisian who had been living in Montreal, Canada, faces life in federal prison when he is sentenced.
Ftouhi’s trial started on Nov. 5 and lasted a week before the prosecution wrapped up its case on Monday. His defense team did not call any witnesses or present evidence during the trial.
Both sides presented their closing arguments Tuesday morning before the 14-member jury began deliberations around 11:30 a.m. in Flint’s federal courthouse. The jury reached a verdict about an hour later around 12:35 p.m.
Ftouhi was found guilty of committing violence at an international airport, interfering with airport security and committing an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries.
According to testimony at the trial, Ftouhi entered the U.S. on June 16 in New York and drove to Michigan. He went to the Gibraltar Trade Center in Mt. Clemens on June 18, 2018, where he tried to buy an assault rifle.
A worker testified that Ftouhi couldn’t buy the gun because he’s Canadian. Ftouhi tried to buy another gun at a Walmart in Chesterfield Township, but an employee there testified that he denied the sale for the same reason.
The FBI says Ftouhi then briefly went to Guns & Stuff Inc. in Clinton Township before stopping at a McDonald’s restaurant for an hour, where FBI Special Agent Todd Reineck says Ftouhi searched “how to buy a gun,” “want to buy a gun without a background check” and “private gun sale no questions asked” on the internet.
Reineck said Ftouhi then stopped at one final firearms store before going to two Meijer stores. At one of them, he wired more than $1,000 to his wife back in Canada.
Reineck said Ftouhi arrived in Genesee County the next day on June 19 and surveillance footage shows on June 20 he spent two hours casing Bishop International Airport.
While at the airport, he made one final Google search of an Arabic term that pointed to the 27th day of Ramadan, a day when Allah gives special consideration to those who perform acts for
God Allah. [aka jihad]
The government claims Ftouhi planned to kill Bishop airport security Lt. Jeff Neville, steal his gun and continue killing others at the airport in the name of Allah.
Neville suffered two serious stab wounds in his neck during the attack, but survived.
Airport maintenance staff member Richard Krul recalled hearing Neville “let out a loud moan of agony.” He said he then turned and saw a large 12-inch survival knife go down his shoulder.
That’s when Krul said he locked arms with Ftouhi and took him down. Krul and Neville held Ftouhi on the ground until Lt. Dan Owens and the airport police chief arrived.
Owens said Ftouhi screamed several comments along the lines of “Allah Akbar, kill all infidels for what we’ve done in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.” And, he said he asked why they didn’t shoot him.
Shortly after the attack, Krul went into the bathroom to clean Neville’s blood off of him and saw two bags left in a stall. He told Owens about the bags and Owens ordered the airport be evacuated immediately.
Authorities believe the bags belonged to Ftouhi.
FBI agents testified that Ftouhi hadn’t communicated with al-Qaeda, ISIS or other well-known terrorist organizations before the attack. But he celebrated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks while he was still living in Tunisia.
An FBI agent who interviewed Ftouhi shortly after the attack said Ftouhi asked whether Neville died. The agent replied that he didn’t know and then noticed Ftouhi looked disappointed and began to tear up, saying his mission wasn’t complete.