(Recasts with details from court appearance, adds lawyer’s comments)
By Steve Friess
FLINT, Mich., June 28 (Reuters) - A man charged with stabbing an airport police officer in an attack federal investigators are probing as an act of terrorism will remain in detention until a hearing next week, his lawyers said on Wednesday.
Amor Ftouhi, 49, of Quebec, Canada, was charged in federal court with violence at an international airport for stabbing officer Jeff Neville at the Bishop International Airport in Flint on June 21. Neville underwent surgery and has left the hospital, local media reported.
Ftouhi, originally from Tunisia and who holds dual Tunisian-Canadian citizenship, appeared briefly before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis at the federal courthouse in Flint on Wednesday morning.
Ftouhi’s attorney, Joan Morgan, said her client was not seeking bond because of an immigration hold that would bar Ftouhi from leaving jail. He will remain in detention until his preliminary hearing scheduled for July 5, but a grand jury indictment could come before that.
Ftouhi, who did not speak other than to acknowledge he understood and agreed with his attorney, wore an orange jumpsuit and was shackled. His face was partially covered by a mask he was wearing for “unspecified medical reasons,” federal court spokesman David Ashenfelter said.
Court officials would not say where he is being held.
Ftouhi legally entered the United States at Lake Champlain, New York, on June 16 before making his way to Flint, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said last week. Officials said Ftouhi targeted a city with an international airport, but declined to say why Flint was chosen.
Ftouhi, who was not on the radar of U.S. or Canadian authorities before the attack, was in Michigan as early as June 18, the FBI said. U.S. and Canadian investigators are probing his travel before the attack.
According to the criminal complaint, Ftouhi yelled in Arabic “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) before stabbing Neville.
He also said something to the effect of “You have killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die,” the complaint said.
Ftouhi attempted to buy a gun before the attack, but was unable to do so, the FBI said.
FBI officials declined to provide details on where Ftouhi attempted to buy the gun or what type of gun he tried to purchase. The 12-inch (30.5 cm), serrated knife Ftouhi used in the attack was bought in the United States. (Additional reporting and writing by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Andrew Hay and Matthew Lewis)