Thalys Train terrorist attack victim Arras, France
According to U.K. Telegraph, AP , New York Times and other media reports, a Moroccan émigré jihadist boarded the Thalys fast train in Brussels with 558 passengers Friday. He was heavily armed with an AK-47, five magazines of ammunition, a hand gun and knives. Shortly after boarding he began shooting at several passengers wounding a Briton and American. One of the three victims was severely wounded in the neck. Three off duty US Marines quickly subdued the perpetrator with the assistance of other passengers. One of the Marine took a bullet and was wounded in the ensuing melee. The Times reported:
The Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, said on Twitter, “I condemn the terrorist attack,” and expressed his sympathy for the victims.
A French actor, Jean-Hugues Anglade, who appeared in the 1986 film “Betty Blue,” was aboard the train. Mr. Cazeneuve confirmed French news media reports that the actor was slightly injured.
In an indication of how seriously the French were taking the assault, President François Hollande issued a statement Friday night saying that “everything is being done” to determine what had happened on the train, having handed the investigation over to the country’s top antiterrorism investigators.
One passenger, identified only as Maxime, told a local newspaper, La Voix du Nord, that the assault had lasted about two minutes.
“The train started slowing down, before suddenly stopping,” the passenger was quoted as saying. “We saw people covered in blood, jumping off, running, then rolling into the grass. They looked totally shocked.”
Another passenger reported two gunshots. “But we thought it was coming from the train, that there was some problem with the train,” the passenger, Maty, told the newspaper. “Then the train started to brake, and it stopped in the middle of the countryside.”
All of the passengers were taken to a gymnasium in Arras until they could be identified by the French police.
The U.K. Telegraph noted other passengers who assisted the Marines in tackling the perpetrator.
In addition to the marines, who played a part in subduing the gunman there were other heroic passengers. Pictured here are (left to right) Anthony Sadler, from Pittsburg, California, Alek Skarlatos from Roseburg, Oregon, and Chris Norman, a Briton living in France who were awarded medals for their part in tackling the attacker.
The Marines were commended for their bravery in quickly subduing the assailant in statements by President Obama and French Interior Minister Casaeneuve who paid a visit to Arras France where the Thalys train had stopped to offload wounded passengers, board a second train for passengers to reach their destinations and arrest the assailant in the custody of French Counter Terrorism police. President Obama who was briefed on the terrorist incident issued a White House statement saying:
Echoing the statements of French authorities, the president expressed his profound gratitude for the courage and quick thinking of several passengers, including U.S. service members, who selflessly subdued the attacker. While the investigation into the attack is in its early stages, it is clear that their heroic actions may have prevented a far worse tragedy.
Casaneuve said at the Arras news conference:
Thanks to them we have averted a drama.
(The Americans were) particularly courageous and showed extreme bravery in extremely difficult circumstances."
The attacker's name is Ayoub el-Qahzzani, a 26-year-old Moroccan who was known to secret services.
El País reported that Spanish anti-terrorist sources said that he "had residency" in Spain for a year until 2014, when he moved to France. The same sources said he traveled to Syria and returned to France soon after.
This is the most serious Jihadi terrorist incident in France since the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher Supermarket attack in Paris by Algerian émigré jihadist brothers and a Senegalese Muslim convert in January 2015. 17 people were excluded in the attack excluding the three perpetrators of both attacks.
Watch this U.K. Telegraph video report on the Thalys train terrorism incident: