TIES TO TERROR? French official says gunman linked to militants

The gunman, identified as a 25-year-old Moroccan national Ayoub El Khazzani, was known to intelligence services over his links to radical Islam, French officials have said.


French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Kahzani apparently had lived in Spain in 2014 and Belgium in 2015.

Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos were aboard a high-speed train en route to Paris from Amsterdam on Friday when a gunman opened fire.

Then a Franco-American traveller in his 50s clashed with the man and was shot.

But the attack was quickly stopped when two off-duty US servicemen and their friend charged the gunman and restrained him.

“Everything happened very fast”, Mr Anthony Sadler, a student travelling with friends Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone, both members of the US military, told France’s BFMTV.

Contrary to early reports, Lorthiois said the attacker did not fire his automatic weapon but wounded one man with a handgun and the other with a blade of some kind. “And he jumped”, Skarlatos said.

Three Americans – Anthony Sadler (left) of Pittsburg, Calif., Alek Skarlatos from Roseburg, Ore., and British national Chris Norman of France – overpowered a gunman armed with a Kalashnikov.

Eskel says “he’s always been a hero to me”.

‘I would rather die being active, trying to get him down than simply sit in the corner and be shot, ‘ he said.

“I don’t feel like a hero”. We ended up by tying him up, then during the process the guy pulled out a cutter and starting cutting Spencer.

The two leaders agreed that the three, along with a French and a British passenger, had demonstrated remarkable bravery and acted without regard for their own safety in order to subdue a heavily armed individual who appeared intent on causing mass casualties, according to the statement.

Stone suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries, and has undergone successful surgery on his hand, officials told NBC News. Spencer was cut, but was released from the hospital.

French President François Hollande plans to meet three Americans who foiled a suspected terrorist attack on a packed high-speed train running from Amsterdam to Paris.

President Barack Obama singled out the Americans, saying “it is clear that their heroic actions may hve prevented a far worse tragedy”.

“We didn’t know if the gun wasn’t working or anything like that. Nobody responded”.

Anglade told Paris Match magazine that when the shooting started, the train staff went into a private cabin and locked it, leaving the passengers alone. Several passengers were allowed to take refuge with the workers, management claimed.

An amateur video taken in the immediate aftermath and uploaded to YouTube shows the suspect on the ground with his legs in the air and his hands tied behind his back, while another man – apparently Stone, kneels shirtless and evidently in pain. “His efforts, along with those of his childhood friends, to save the train passengers in France from a terrorist attack are nothing short of heroic”. “My thought was, ‘OK, I’m probably going to die anyway, so let’s go,”‘ he said according to NBC.

Security is now expected to be tightened on worldwide train services in mainland Europe. French authorities are now questioning him and security has been stepped up at airports and stations around the country.


French authorities have been on heightened alert for terrorism since the January attacks on the Charlie Hebdo newsweekly and a Paris kosher supermarket left 20 dead, including the three attackers.

Roseburg man hailed as hero in train attack