Ayoub el Khazzani, 26, devout Muslim, is “dumbfounded” that anyone would think he was an Islamic terrorist because he only intended to rob people because he was “hungry,” says his lawyer with a straight face. As details emerge of the gunman’s ISIS terror connections, lawyer Sophie David said her client looked “ill and malnourished.” (Yeah, getting the crap beat out of you by 3 Americans could give you a sick feeling)
UK Daily Mail Thwarted train gunman Ayoub El Khazzani has laughed at accusations he was trying to carry out a terrorist attack on the Amsterdam to Paris express, his lawyer has claimed. Morocco-born MUSLIM El Khazzani, 26, says he does not see why his actions on the Thalys train on Friday have caused such an outcry and insisted that he was only interested in ‘robbing the passengers’.
The suspect was already on government officials’ radars in four European countries before he carried out the alleged attack on Friday evening. He is reported to have been deemed a terrorist threat following the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, and to have fought with ISIS in Syria earlier this year.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Saturday that Spanish authorities had flagged the jihadi to French officials last February because he belongs to the ‘radical Islamist movement’ – something El-Khazzani appeared to support on his Facebook page, which has since been deleted.
His lawyer Sophie David told Le Parisien newspaper today that El Khazzani ‘can’t understand why this affair has generated such publicity’. ‘He denies being involved in any kind of terrorist plot. The suggestion [that he had embarked on a terrorist attack] made him laugh.’
She added: ‘[I saw] somebody who was very sick, somebody very weakened physically, as if he suffered from malnutrition, very, very thin and very haggard.’ ‘He says he found this Kalashnikov automatic rifle, his Luger pistol and a mobile phone in a suitcase, which had been left in a park close to the Brussels railway station in Belgium where he slept rough,’ his lawyer amed told Le Parisien.
El-Khazzani, who was reportedly radicalised while living in Spain, was subsequently placed on an intelligence watch list in France. Officials confirmed through fingerprints their suspicions that the Thalys train terrorist was the same man who had been on their radar.
El-Khazzani was believed to have flown from Berlin to Istanbul on May 10 this year. Turkey is a preferred flight destination for would-be jihadists heading for Syria. He is thought to have received military training with ISIS there, before traveling to Syria to fight with the terror group, The Telegraph reports
The suspect had left France in 2014, before traveling to Syria and returning to France to assemble a horde of deadly weapons, it is said. He was arrested in Spain at least once for a drug-related offense, the Spanish counter-terrorism source said. Cazeneuve said the man had also lived in Belgium and that inquiries ‘should establish precisely the activities and travels of this terrorist’.
French newspaper Le Voix du Nord reported that the jihadi may have had connections to a group involved in a suspected Islamist shooting in Belgium in January. The Belgian government confirmed an inquiry into the shooting is under way, but would not comment further on any potential link.
Meanwhile, the suspect’s father defended him as a ‘good boy’ today, and insisted that he would never want to kill anyone. (Aren’t they all?) Mohamed Khazzani, 64, broke down in tears as he recalled the moment police knocked on the door of his rundown flat to tell him his son had been arrested with a Kalashnikov on board a packed Paris-bound high-speed train.
The dad-of-six, who lives in the southern Spanish port city of Algeciras after emigrating from his native Morocco, told MailOnline: ‘They’re saying Ayoub is a terrorist but I just cannot believe what I am hearing. ‘My son a terrorist? The only terrorism he is guilty of is terrorism for bread because he hasn’t got enough money to feed himself properly.’
Mr Khazzani spoke out from his rubbish-strewn flat on the fifth floor of a dilapidated eleventh-floor tower black in the rundown Algeciras neighbourhood of El Saladillo. He admitted he is an illegal squatter in the grubby three-bed apartment, which he was said was owned by a bank after the previous owner was evicted.
The father said, “Ayoub was ‘religious’ and never smoked or drank alcohol.'”(DING DING DING! Definitely a terrorist)