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Daesh gunman sentenced to life over foiled train attack in Europe

December 18, 2020 at 12:50 pm

Ayoub El Khazzani, a 31-year-old trained Daesh fighter was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in a foiled 2015 terrorist attack on a European train, 23 August 2015 [latribunadelpaisvasco /Facebook]

A gunman was sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday for his role in a foiled 2015 terrorist attack on a European train.

Ayoub El Khazzani, a 31-year-old trained Daesh fighter, was convicted alongside three co-defendants following a four-year investigation into the attack.

Bilal Chatra, Rédouane El Amrani Ezzerrifi and Mohamed Bakkali were convicted on charges of aiding El Khazzani’s journey from Syria to Belgium and helping to prepare the attack.

The trio received 27, 25 and seven-year prison sentences respectively.

El Khazzani, a Moroccan national, opened fire on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris in August 2015.

The 31-year-old boarded the high-speed train to Paris, in Brussels, carrying a Kalashnikov loaded with nine magazines with 30 rounds of ammunition each.

El Khazzani was also carrying an automatic pistol, a cutter, and a bottle of highly flammable yellow liquid, the court heard last month.

When the train crossed the French border, the Moroccan national emerged from the bathroom brandishing his weapons.

Two people were injured before the 31-year-old was overpowered by four passengers, including two US servicemen.

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US National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, US Airman Spencer Stone and their friend, student Anthony Sadler, tackled El Khazzani to the ground after earlier attempts to neutralise the threat failed.

Stone, joined by British businessman Chris Norman, then choked El Khazzani until he was unconscious.

The US airman then administered first aid, saving the life of French-American Mark Magoolian who had been shot in an earlier attempt to stop El Khazzani.

The train was then re-routed to Arras, in northern France, where El Khazzani was arrested by local police.

The three Americans, who were honoured with French citizenship and made members of the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest award, appeared in a Paris court as witnesses in the case last month.

The group’s actions, which were praised as heroic, have inspired the movie “The 15:17 to Paris”, directed by Clint Eastwood.

The film features the three Americans re-enacting the scene as themselves.

On Wednesday the trial of 14 people accused of aiding the assailants in the 2015 attack on the offices of magazine Charlie Hebdo ended.

All 14 were found guilty of variety of offences relating to the attack, that left 17 people, including people at the magazine’s offices, dead.

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