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Ayoub El-Khazzani, French train gunman, given terrorism charges

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Ayoub El-Khazzani (R), 26, from Morocco, exited a bathroom inside of a train in France with an AK-47 before he was tackled and detained by a group of men on Friday. Photo courtesy of Ayoub El-Khazzani/Facebook
Ayoub El-Khazzani (R), 26, from Morocco, exited a bathroom inside of a train in France with an AK-47 before he was tackled and detained by a group of men on Friday. Photo courtesy of Ayoub El-Khazzani/Facebook

PARIS, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Ayoub El-Khazzani, the Moroccan who wielded an AK-47 on a French train before he was subdued by three Americans and a Briton, was received terrorism charges.

El-Khazzani was formally charged overnight on multiple counts of attempted murder, possession of weapons, and conspiracy, French prosecutors confirmed Tuesday, according to CBS News.

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Born in Tetouan, Morocco, El-Khazzani moved to Spain in 2007 and then moved to Belgium in 2015. In February 2014, Spanish authorities warned France that El-Khazzani was an Islamist extremist who could travel to France.

El-Khazzani was then placed on a list "so that we could locate him if he ever came on to French soil," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

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El-Khazzani told police that his motive was to rob the passengers, only planning to shoot out a window of the train, but prosecutor Molins said El-Khazzani's explanation became less clear during interrogation before he stopped answering questions altogether.

Anthony Sadler, considered a hero for helping stop a potential massacre on a train in Paris, France, returned home to Sacramento on Tuesday.

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Sadler, 23, a senior at Sacramento State University, along with friends Spencer Stone, 23, Alek Skarlatos, 22, and British citizen Chris Norman, 62, thwarted a suspected gun attack by Ayoub El-Khazzani on Friday. France has opened a formal terrorism investigation into the incident.

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The four men were awarded the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest honor, on Monday. Sadler is the first of the American heroes to come home.

"It was a great honor to meet the French president, I never thought that I would be in that position," Sadler said. "He's a really nice man and I appreciate everything he did for us. It's a great honor bestowed upon us and I appreciate that."

Sadler was also invited to the prestigious French premiere of music movie "Straight Outta Compton."

"I feel like I'm in a dream, it's unreal," Sadler said. "It's pretty crazy."

Mark Moogalian, 51, from Midlothian, Va., was shot while attempting to assist in stopping El-Khazzani. Moogalian is being treated at Lille Central Hospital and was hailed for bravery.

Skarlatos, a National Guard Specialist, will receive the Soldiers Medal, which is awarded "for extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty," the U.S. Army said.

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