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Montreal man convicted of terrorism in Michigan airport stabbing

Witnesses saw Amor Ftouhi attack Lt. Jeff Neville at the Flint airport and wrestled him to the ground.

FLINT, Mich. — A Montreal man who told investigators that his "mission was to kill and be killed" was convicted of terrorism and other crimes Tuesday in the stabbing of a Michigan airport officer.

It was a slam dunk for federal prosecutors: Witnesses saw Amor Ftouhi attack Lt. Jeff Neville at the Flint airport in June 2017 and wrestled him to the ground.

Image: Amor Ftouhi
Amor Ftouhi in a photo released on June 22, 2017.FBI / Reuters file

Ftouhi, 53, was convicted of three crimes. He's a native of Tunisia who was living in Montreal at the time of the stabbing.

"This isn't a mystery. He was caught right there. He has the knife in his hand," Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathleen Corken told jurors.

Investigators say Ftouhi wanted to stab Neville , take his gun and start shooting people in the airport. He legally drove into the U.S. at Champlain, New York, and arrived in Flint five days later. He tried but failed to buy a gun at a gun show and instead bought a large knife.

Witnesses said he yelled, "Allahu akbar" — God is great — during the attack.

Neville survived but has lost feeling in part of his face as a result of being stabbed in the neck.

"This is what a Muslim is born for," Ftouhi said in a handwritten note to his wife that was found in his apartment.

FBI agent Shadi Elreda told jurors about his interview with Ftouhi after his arrest. He said Ftouhi was upset that Neville might survive.

"His mission was to kill and be killed. He said his mission was not over," Elreda testified.

Ftouhi's lawyers didn't offer an opening statement at trial and didn't call any witnesses. In her closing argument, attorney Joan Morgan said Ftouhi was unstable and believed it would be easier to be killed by police in the U.S. than in Canada.

"He was a person who was absolutely looking for a way out," she said.