Plenty of gratitude on display in France for their American saviors (Hey, we haven’t forgotten how you helped us defeat the British in the Revolutionary War). Moroccan born MUSLIM attacker armed with Kalashnikov shouted “give me back my gun” as he was foiled by three Americans, including two off-duty U.S. Military servicemen.
CNN The struggle was brief, bloody and chaotic. The high-speed train was zipping from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday when a shirtless man emerged from the bathroom — a rifle slung over his shoulder, witnesses said. Three Americans — a civilian, an Air Force member and a National Guard member, with help from a British man — jumped into action. They quickly tackled him, possibly averting a massacre aboard the train.
Alek Skarlatos yells, ‘Get him!,’ so my friend Spencer Stone immediately gets up to charge the guy, followed by Alek, then myself,” said Anthony Sadler, the civilian among the three. Stone is an Air Force member while Skarlatos is in the National Guard. “The three of us beat up the guy,” Sadler said. “In the process, Spencer gets slashed multiple times by the box cutter, and Alek takes the AK away.”
— Chloé Davidovitch (@CloDavidovitch) August 22, 2015
U.S. Air Force off-duty serviceman Spencer Stone departs the Clinique Lille Sud, which specializes in hand injuries, in Lesquin, France.
UK Telegraph Pictures just in show Spencer Stone, one of the American heroes, leaving hospital in Lille. He looks a bit battered and bruised but otherwise in reasonable shape. Earlier, his mother said he had surgery on Saturday morning to repair some of the damage to his fingers and would need physiotherapy to get full movement back. Witnesses said that Stone provided first aid to others before worrying about his own injuries
Francois Hollande, the French president, has also now offered his “heartfelt thanks” to Barack Obama for the “exemplary conduct” shown by three American citizens who overpowered a gunman on a packed Amsterdam-Paris train.
UK Express A Spanish anti-terrorist official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed the 26-year-old Moroccan suspect had lived in Spain until last year, moved to France then travelled to Syria where he is believed to have trained with ISIS before returning to France. French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said the suspect had been flagged by Spanish authorities last year for links to ISIS.
French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, who was on board with his girlfriend and two children, has criticised the train staff for locking themselves in a special carriage and leaving passengers to fend for themselves. It was no thanks to the train staff that the three Americans and one British man risked their lives to save the other passengers.
He said: “We heard screaming passengers in English, ‘He shoots! He shoots! He has a Kalashnikov!” “Suddenly, members of the crew ran into the hallway and their faces were pale.” He said the staff rushed towards a locked car and opened it “with a special key” before locking themselves inside.
Mr Anglade claims he and other passengers banged on the door and shouted at staff to open up, but their cries for help were ignored. He said: “Nobody replied, there was radio silence. It was terrible and unbearable, it was inhumane.
UK Telegraph The thwarted attack shows once again just how difficult it is for intelligence services trying to track potential jihadists. In a timely interview with CTC Sentinel, the in-house journal of the US military academy at West Point.published on the same day as the attack, Alain Grignard, a senior member of Belgium’s counter-terrorism police unit, said the terrorist threat had “never been higher in all the years I’ve been working”.
It boils down to mathematics and it’s all linked to the Syria dynamic. There’s no way of knowing the exact numbers but I can tell you with certainty that at least 300 have travelled – that’s the number we have sufficient evidence to bring charges against. At least 100 have returned to Belgium, but we are under no illusions that there aren’t more we don’t know about. It’s impossible to do surveillance on everybody.
Col Tim Collins argues that it needed the American can-do attitude to overpower a gunman aboard the train to Paris. What would have happened if they had not been there?
I’ve always said that I felt I could trust putting my life in Alek’s hands. the traditional European reserve been in play it is likely that there would have been wholesale murder. As it was the strong tradition of US servicemen to be “always on duty”, they no doubt saved lives.
In my experience, the US serviceman does not experience the excruciating levels of self-consciousness that dogs the European armies. Despite a low during the Vietnam era, US service personnel are proud of their country’s uniform and service and the nation is proud right back.
Alek Skarlatos was on holiday in Europe after just completing a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Oregon National Guard.
His step-mother, Karen Skarlatos, said he was just the sort of man to put himself in danger to protect others.
US National Guard soldier Alek Skarlatos, 22, said he helped tackle the attacker with his friend Spencer Stone, who is in the US Air Force, who was stabbed in the neck. He said: “I just got back from Afghanistan last month, and this was my vacation from Afghanistan.”
Their friend, Anthony Sadler, was travelling with them and described the moment the pair jumped into action. He said: “As he was cocking it to shoot it, Alek just yells, `Spencer, go!’ And Spencer runs down the aisle.
Spencer makes first contact, he tackles the guy, Alek wrestles the gun away from him, and the gunman pulls out a box cutter and slices Spencer a few times. And the three of us beat him until he was unconscious.
“He was just telling us to give back his gun. ‘Give me back my gun! Give me back my gun!’ But we just carried on beating him up and immobilized him and that was it.”
Reuters reports that Belgium’s prime minister called on Saturday for urgent talks with France, Germany and the Netherlands to seek more security measures on cross-border trains, after a gunman was wrestled to the ground by passengers. The prime minister’s office said the train gunman, whis is being held in France where he was arrested, was known to Belgian authorities, which had been informed by Spain that he was a security risk.
Gen Philip Breedlove, Nato’s Supreme Commander in Europe and head of US European Command, has also paid tribute to the actions of off-duty American personnel:
These men are heroes. Actions like this clearly illustrate the courage and commitment our young men and women have all the time, whether they are on duty or on leave. We are extremely proud of their efforts and now are praying for our injured airman to have a speedy recovery.
Chris Norman, British businessman who helped overcome the attacker on the train: “I realized the only way to survive was to go for him.”
He said: “I was just sitting working on my computer. I saw a man with a Kalashnikov. I said to myself s***. “I heard an American saying, ‘go get him’, then someone else saying, ‘Don’t you do that buddy’. Then I realized the only way to survive was to go for him.” He added: “I’m not a hero I just did what I could.”