French court convicts IS operative over foiled train attack
(AP Photo, File)PARIS – A French court on Thursday convicted an Islamic State operative over a train attack five years ago that was foiled with the dramatic intervention of three American passengers. The special terrorism court sentenced Morocco-born Ayoub El Khazzani to life in prison, with 22 years guaranteed behind bars. The train attack was allegedly organized by Abdelhamid Abaaoud, portrayed as the coordinator of the November 2015 attacks in Paris. He told the court that Abaaoud concocted the plan for the train attack and he followed it to the letter — until he changed his mind. The court convicted Bilal Chatra and Mohamed Bakkali of complicity and sentenced them to prison terms of 27 years and 25 years, respectively.
American passenger recalls trying to kill train attacker
Passengers who wrestled and disarmed an Islamic State gunman aboard a high-speed Amsterdam to Paris train are recounting how their split-second decisions helped prevent what could have become a mass slaughter. “I was honestly trying my best to kill or restrain him,” Skarlatos said, recounting the chaotic Aug. 21, 2015 scene aboard the highspeed Amsterdam to Paris train.. The attack suspect, Ayoub El Khazzani faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted of attempted terrorist murder. Skarlatos' lawyer stressed that El Khazzani was still a potential danger when his client tried to shoot him. Then, he said, “I sat on him.”The train rerouted to Arras, in northern France, where El Khazzani was arrested.
At Paris trial, passengers recall disarming of train gunman
At the trial's opening earlier this week, defense lawyer Sarah Mauger-Poliak said El Khazzani “regrets having allowed himself to become indoctrinated” by extremist propaganda. Authorities say El Khazzani boarded the train in Brussels armed with the Kalashnikov, nine clips with 30 rounds each, an automatic pistol and a cutter. Once aboard the train, El Khazzani lingered in a restroom between cars and then emerged bare-chested with his weapons, according to investigators. His wife, Isabelle, said subduing El Khazzani was "a five-man job” and that she regarded her husband as a hero. With the attacker under control, the train rerouted to Arras, in northern France, where El Khazzani was arrested.
Trial in France for extremist foiled by 3 Americans on train
El Khazzani, a 31-year-old Moroccan, spent several months in Syria and boarded the train in Brussels armed to the hilt, authorities say. The man considered the likely mastermind of those attacks, Abdel Hamid Abaaoud, was the behind-the-scenes force in the train attack, planned in Syria, according to the prosecution. The train attacker, El Khazzani, “knowingly followed Abaaoud, but it’s been years since he was in a jihadi mindset,” his lawyer, Sarah Mauger-Poliak, said in a phone interview. El Khazzani bought a train ticket at the Brussels station on Aug. 21, 2015 for a 5:13 p.m. departure. El Khazzani told investigators that Abaaoud wanted him to kill only the American military men, a line he was likely to maintain during the trial.
Paris train attack hero makes bid for Congress from Oregon
This summer, the worst wildfires on record burned in Oregon, with climate change and overgrown forests worsening fire conditions. A possible factor in Skarlatos' favor: Thousands of students at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, who would normally vote in those towns, are learning remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic. His name recognition went only so far, said Christopher McKnight Nichols, associate professor of history at Oregon State University. Of his campaign war chest, over 60% comes from out of state, DeFazio said during their debate. Several GOP state lawmakers display the group's regalia in their Capitol offices.