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France train shooting: Suspect identified as Moroccan man Ayoub El-Khazzani

Monday, 24 August 2015

The suspect in the train attack in France on Friday has been identified as 25-year-old Moroccan man Ayoub El-Khazzani.

French authorities have identified the main suspect in the train attack on Friday as Ayoub El-Khazzani, a 25-year-old Moroccan who is now being questioned by antiterror police. The shooting happened on a Thalys train en route to Paris from Amsterdam, according to a BBC report profiling the train attack suspect.

El-Khazzani, who set foot on Spain in 2007, is reportedly a native of Teouan, northern Morocco. AFP news firm cited a Spanish antiterrorist insider saying the Moroccan stayed in Spain for seven years before moving to France in March 2014.

The suspect later went to Syria and returned to France. He was previously arrested in Spain over drug-related charges. However, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said El-Khazzani lived in Spain until 2014 and moved to Belgium the following year.

Last year, Spanish authorities flagged El-Khazzani as an Islamic extremist who has possible intentions of going to France. He was later on placed on a watch list, said Cazeneuve.

An AFP report published on Al Arabiya says El-Khazzani had a Spanish residency permit that allowed him to travel to 26 European countries freely.

El-Khazzani's lawyer has denied the allegations that his client went to Turkey and Syria. The train shooting suspect himself denied any plans to implement a terrorist attack. He explained that he had only found weapons in a Belgian park and later on used it to rob train passengers.

The Moroccan suspect went on to say that his identity documents have been stolen and that he was already homeless in Belgium. While he confirmed that he had traveled to Andorra, Austria, Belgium, France, and Germany, he maintained that he did not travel to Turkey or Syria, the report details.

When El-Khazzani attacked a train on Friday, he had with him a Kalashnikov rifle, one automatic pistol, ammunition, and one blade. Three Americans onboard helped subdue him, thus preventing a deadly incident from happening.

The recent train attack in France shows how difficult it is for European authorities to monitor the hundreds of extremists who have reportedly returned home after fighting for the Islamic State in Syria.

Source: CP World

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