The French prosecutor handling the case of the Moroccan national who attacked an Amsterdam to Paris train told a news conference today that the attack was a premeditated jihadist attack. While he was on the train and just prior to beginning his assault on it, which was stopped by three Americans without any deaths, he watched on his phone a video calling for violent Jihad.
Prosecutor Francois Molins said that 25-year-old Ayoub El-Khazzani’s phone was found in a bag in the area he had been sitting in on the train. Examining the phone showed that after El-Khazzani had gotten on the train and prior to launching his aborted attack he had watched an Islamist video.
Molins said that he had opened an investigation into El-Khazzani for attempted murder with terrorist intent. He called El-Khazzani’s claim that he was on the train only to rob it “far-fetched” and noted he was heavily armed with an AK-47, 270 rounds of ammunition, a handgun, knives and petrol.
“Ayoub el Khazzani had watched YouTube audio files whilst already on the Thalys train in which an individual called on the faithful to fight and take up arms in the name of the Prophet,” Molins told the news conference. He also noted that the attacker was known to intelligence sources who tracked individuals with jihadist sympathies.
El-Khazzani had been to Syria at least once, officials have said. A lawyer who had been assigned to represent El-Khazzani told media over the weekend that her client said he only intended to rob the train and that he was “dumbfounded” he is being considered a terrorist.
Meanwhile, the three Americans who are credited with preventing the attack, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, were awarded a medal of bravery from French President