Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

French Police 'Had Been Warned about Terrorist'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

French Police 'Had Been Warned about Terrorist'

Article excerpt

FRENCH police were reportedly warned more than a year ago about the radical views of a gunman disarmed by US and British passengers on a train.

Spanish law enforcement told their French counterparts in March 2014 that Ayoub El-Khazzani had a ""relationship with radical Islam", the Spanish El Pais newspaper reported. It also claimed that the 26-year-old Moroccan, believed to have visited Syria last year, had been included on a European anti-extremism police database as far back as 2012.

Officials told The Associated Press El-Khazzani, was on the radar of authorities in France, Belgium and Spain.

He was identified by counter-terrorism investigators as the gunman armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun who opened fire on the Amsterdam-Paris train on Friday.

US Air Force serviceman Spencer Stone, aided by US National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, Sacramento State University student Anthony Sadler and British IT expert Chris Norman risked their lives to tackle him and beat him unconscious.

Mr Stone was stabbed in the neck in the struggle but left Lille Hospital on Saturday night with his left arm bandaged and in a sling, giving a quick wave as he walked out to a black car with diplomatic licence plates.

Mr Norman, a married grandfather-of-two, said he helped the three Americans overpower the gunman who opened fire on the train because he thought he was "probably going to die anyway".

After giving evidence at Arras police station in France, he told waiting press: "My thought was 'OK I am probably going to die anyway so let's go'. I would rather die being active, trying to get him down than simply sit in the corner and be shot."

Mr Stone and Mr Skarlatos, who had returned from a deployment in Afghanistan in July, grabbed the man while Mr Sadler and Mr Norman joined them to help.

No-one had any time to think about the looming danger, according to Mr Norman who described the passengers' reactions as "very rapid reasoning". …

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