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Life sentence for Montreal man convicted of terrorism in U.S. airport stabbing

WATCH ABOVE: Who is Amor Ftouhi? (June 22, 2017)

FLINT, Mich. — A Canadian man convicted of terrorism for nearly killing a Michigan police officer while yelling “God is great” in Arabic was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday, after boldly declaring that he only regretted not having a machine-gun during the knife attack.

READ MORE: Montreal terrorist considered targeting U.S. college and ‘gay club’ before attacking airport

Amor Ftouhi’s statements stunned U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman, who said he’d been “wrestling very hard” with a decision about whether to allow the Tunisia native a chance to someday be released from prison.

Leitman said the remarks “persuaded me beyond any shadow of a doubt” that a life term was appropriate for the 51-year-old Ftouhi, who moved to Montreal in 2007.

“He was crystal clear today: If he had the opportunity to kill more people, he would,” the judge said.

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READ MORE: Deadly export: Canadians responsible for hundreds of terrorism deaths and injuries overseas

Ftouhi drove 1,609 kilometres from Montreal to the airport in Flint, Michigan, where he repeatedly stabbed Lt. Jeff Neville in the neck in June 2017.

Investigators said Ftouhi wanted to take Neville’s gun and start shooting people at Bishop Airport. Ftouhi legally entered 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.

WATCH: FBI calls Michigan airport stabbing ‘act of terrorism’, alleged attacker is Canadian (June 21, 2017)

FBI calls Michigan airport stabbing ‘act of terrorism’, alleged attacker is Canadian
FBI calls Michigan airport stabbing ‘act of terrorism’, alleged attacker is Canadian

“Do I regret what I did? Never,” Ftouhi told the judge inside a federal courtroom in Flint. “I regret I didn’t get that machine-gun. I regret I didn’t kill that cop.”

READ MORE: Canadian sentenced to 40 years for ISIS plot to attack Times Square, subway

Ftouhi said he had a good education and many skills but felt discrimination in Canada because he wasn’t a white Christian. He pledged allegiance to his Muslim faith and said western counties and Arabic countries should be cursed if they “don’t rule according to Allah.”

He was convicted in November of terrorism and two other crimes.

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WATCH: Montreal man accused in Flint airport stabbing says it was ‘his mission’ (Aug. 8, 2017)

Montreal man accused in Flint airport stabbing says it was ‘his mission’
Montreal man accused in Flint airport stabbing says it was ‘his mission’

Neville survived the attack but has lost feeling on the right side of his face. He retired from the airport police department because of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“He picked the wrong Americans to attack that day,” Neville told Leitman, referring to fellow officers and witnesses who saved him and pounced on Ftouhi.

“He should never walk the streets as a free man again.”

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Ftouhi’s attorney, Joan Morgan, argued for a 25-year prison sentence in solitary confinement, saying it would effectively be a life term because of Ftouhi’s age. The judge praised Morgan’s work but repeatedly challenged her over the recommendation, especially after Ftouhi’s courtroom remarks.

READ MORE: Montreal man who stabbed a Michigan airport officer is convicted of terrorism

Morgan said Ftouhi’s mental health had deteriorated at the time of the attack and has slipped even further during 22 months in custody awaiting trial and sentencing.

“People change. … He is more than what his actions were,” Morgan said.

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