Man convicted on terrorism charge in 2017 Michigan airport stabbing

FILE PHOTO: Amor Ftouhi, arrested in connection with the stabbing of a police officer at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan, is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters June 29, 2017. FBI/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

By Suzannah Gonzales

(Reuters) - A man accused of stabbing a police officer at a Michigan airport last year was convicted in U.S. federal court on Tuesday of charges including terrorism, a court official said.

A jury in Flint, Michigan, found Amor Ftouhi, 51, of the Canadian province of Quebec, guilty on charges of committing an act of violence at an international airport, interference with airport security and committing an act of terrorism, the court said.

Ftouhi's defense did not present a case and the jury took just more than an hour to reach its verdict, the court said. Ftouhi had pleaded not guilty and the trial began last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

The defendant's lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sentencing is set for March 7. Ftouhi, who holds dual Tunisian-Canadian citizenship, faces up to life in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 for each count. U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman, who presided over the trial, will impose sentencing.

Ftouhi was originally charged last year with violence at an international airport for stabbing Jeff Neville, an officer at the Bishop International Airport in Flint, in the neck, authorities said.

In March, a federal grand jury indicted Ftouhi on a terrorism charge stemming from the attack.

Federal prosecutors said that on June 21, 2017, Ftouhi approached Neville at the airport and stabbed him, shouting: "Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)," and referencing killings in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. After his arrest, Ftouhi told officials he was a "soldier of Allah" and subscribed to the ideology of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, prosecutors said.

Ftouhi legally entered the United States from Lake Champlain, New York, on June 16 before making his way to Flint, the FBI said. Officials said Ftouhi targeted a city with an international airport, but declined to say why Flint was chosen.

Before entering the United States, Ftouhi researched American gun laws and Michigan gun shows online, a Justice Department statement said.

"They rendered the correct verdict in my eyes," Neville, the police officer who was stabbed, told reporters, adding the verdict gave him some peace.

"I would rather be working at the airport right now," said Neville, who is trying to pursue a career in real estate. "I really liked my job and it really pains me that I'm not going to be able to do that anymore."

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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