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Ftouhi regrets not killing Flint airport police officer, sentenced to 2 life prison terms

U.S. Department of Justice

The man convicted of a terrorist attack at Flint’s Bishop International Airport in 2017 is expressing no remorse.

Shackled, wearing a baggy orange prison jumpsuit, Amor Ftouhi defiantly told the judge Thursday he regretted not killing the airport police officer he slashed with a knife in June of 2017.

He added that he also regretted not having a machine gun during the attack.

As his case has progressed slowly through the U.S. legal system, Ftouhi appeared frustrated as his attorneys discouraged him from speaking out in court.

Thursday, Ftouhi finally had his moment.

In a controlled, though at times emotional voice, Ftouhi criticized the U.S., Israel, Russia, democracy, and corrupt elements in Middle Eastern countries.

Ftouhi talked about having “Jihad in his heart.” Amor Ftouhi is a native of Tunisia, and had been living in Montreal at the time of the attack. 

U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman stopped Ftouhi briefly, warning him that his statements would affect his sentence. Later, the judge said Ftouhi had tied his hands, as he sentenced Ftouhi to 2 consecutive life terms.    

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
"He probably would want me to say I hated him. That probably would make his day,” says Jeff Neville, “You know what. He ain’t getting that from me. I don’t hate him.”

Last November, it took a jury about an hour to decide Ftouhi was guilty on all counts related to the June 21st, 2017 attack at Flint’s Bishop International Airport, including a charge of committing an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries.

In the attack, Ftouhi approached airport police officer Jeff Neville from behind, slashing his neck with a knife. Neville and other airport employees wrestled Ftouhi to the ground. Neville barely survived the wound, which tore from his right ear down across his neck.

Neville retired from law enforcement after the attack, and now works in real estate. 

Outside the federal courthouse in Flint, he welcomed the judge’s decision to send Ftouhi away for life.

“I would have been disappointed quite frankly if he didn’t get life,” Neville told reporters, “I think if he got out of prison at 70 years old he’d still be a dangerous man.”

Ftouhi’s attorneys, whom he criticized in his pre-sentencing statement, tried to convince the judge to impose a lighter sentence of 25 years in solitary confinement.

Federal prosecutors agreed with the sentence.

“The evidence at trial demonstrated that Ftouhi had a ‘mission’ to kill as many American law enforcement as possible in an act of violent jihad,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider in a written statement. “The sentence today reflects his extreme dangerousness and the need to prevent him from further acts of violence in the future.

After the sentencing, Jeff Neville was asked about Ftouhi saying in court that he regretted not killing the police office.     

“If he didn’t kill me, he probably would want me to say I hated him. That probably would make his day,” says Neville. “You know what? He ain’t getting that from me. I don’t hate him.”

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.