Tuesday 6 December 2016

Train attacker in France 'watched radical Islamic video' on phone minutes before violence

Published 25/08/2015 | 17:25

France train gunman Ayoub El-Khazzani
France train gunman Ayoub El-Khazzani

A terror investigation has been launched after French authorities said the suspected attacker in a thwarted shooting on a train in France watched a radical Islamic video minutes before the violence.

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Prosecutor Francois Molins said the decision to open an investigation was based on the actions of 26-year-old Moroccan suspect Ayoub El-Khazzani on the train on Friday night and information from other European authorities about his travels and apparent links to radical Islam.

Mr Molins said El-Khazzani notably watched the online video on his phone minutes before he walked through the Amsterdam-to-Paris train carrying an assault rifle and other weapons.

Authorities say they found the suspect's phone in a bag left in the train. El-Khazzani boarded the train on Friday at a Brussels station.

The gunman was tackled and tied up by a group of three American friends and a British businessman. Another man who tried to stop him - a French-American named Mark Moogalian - is in hospital with a gunshot wound.

Now that the formal investigation is opened, investigating magistrates are expected to file numerous charges against El-Khazzani, including an attempted terrorism-related attack.

From the left, British businessman Chris Norman, Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento University in California, French President Francois Hollande, U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, and Alek Skarlatos a U.S. National Guardsman from Roseburg, Oregon pose at the Elysee Palace, Monday Aug.24, 2015 in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, Pool)
From the left, British businessman Chris Norman, Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento University in California, French President Francois Hollande, U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, and Alek Skarlatos a U.S. National Guardsman from Roseburg, Oregon pose at the Elysee Palace, Monday Aug.24, 2015 in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, Pool)
From the left, British businessman Chris Norman, Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento University in California, French President Francois Hollande, U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, and Alek Skarlatos a U.S. National Guardsman from Roseburg, Oregon pose at the Elysee Palace, Monday Aug.24, 2015 in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, Pool)
French President Francois Hollande, right, awards British businessman Chris Norman with the Legion of Honor at the Elysee Palace, Monday Aug.24, 2015 in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, Pool)
U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley (2ndR), three U.S. citizens, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos (L), Airman First Class Spencer Stone (2ndL) and student Anthony Sadler leave after a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
From the left, British businessman Chris Norman, Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento University in California, French President Francois Hollande, U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, and Alek Skarlatos a U.S. National Guardsman from Roseburg, Oregon pose at the Elysee Palace, Monday Aug.24, 2015 in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, Pool)
Anthony Sadler, center with orange shirt, a senior at Sacramento University in California , U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, fourth right, U.S. National Guardsman from Roseburg, Oregon, Alek Skarlatos, third left, and their families pose with U.S. Ambassador to France Jane D. Hartley, fourth left, on the steps of the Elysee Palace before being awarded with the Legion of Honor, Monday Aug.24, 2015 in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
U.S. National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos adjusts the Legion d'Honneur (the Legion of Honour) medal on U.S. Airman First Class Spencer Stone (L) during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Michel Euler/Pool
A French railway security worker (front C) attends the Legion d'Honneur (the Legion of Honour) award ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Michel Euler/Pool
The Legion d'Honneur (the Legion of Honour) medals for the three Americans and the British businessman are pictured on a cushion during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Catherine Gaschka/Pool
French President Francois Hollande (L) poses with U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley (C), three U.S. citizens National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos (2ndL), Airman First Class Spencer Stone (2ndR) and student Anthony Sadler as they leave after a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
French President Francois Hollande (L) awards U.S. Airman First Class Spencer Stone (R) with the Legion d'Honneur (the Legion of Honour) medal during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Michel Euler/Pool
French President Francois Hollande (L) awards U.S. Airman First Class Spencer Stone (C) with the Legion d'Honneur (the Legion of Honour) medal as U.S. National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos applauds during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Michel Euler/Pool

El-Khazzani was found to have an AKM assault rifle with 270 rounds of ammunition, a 9mm handgun, a box-cutter and a bottle of gasoline, the prosecutor said.

El-Khazzani had travelled through several European countries and had been repeatedly incarcerated in Spain, Mr Molins said. He may have tried to go to Syria.

In questioning, El-Khazzani initially said he had found a bag of weapons the night before in a Brussels park and planned to use them to rob passengers, according to Mr Molins.

But his explanation grew less and less lucid, the prosecutor said, and the suspect eventually stopped speaking to investigators at all.

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