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Trial begins for man accused in foiled 2015 terror attack on French train

By
Don Jacobson
French national police patrol the Gare du Nord train station in Paris, France, on August 24, 2015, three days after a terrorist attack on the rail system was thwarted by four men. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI
French national police patrol the Gare du Nord train station in Paris, France, on August 24, 2015, three days after a terrorist attack on the rail system was thwarted by four men. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 16 (UPI) -- The trial of an accused terrorist -- whose attack aboard high-speed train in France five years ago was foiled by passengers, and later dramatized in a Hollywood movie -- began Monday at a special court in Paris.

The accused, Ayoub El-Khazzani, acknowledged the charges against him at the start of the trial proceedings.

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Prosecutors say El-Khazzani boarded the train from Amsterdam to Paris train on Aug. 21, 2015, armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and nearly 300 rounds of ammunition. He began shooting but was overpowered by passengers, including American soldiers on vacation.

Three people were wounded in the attack but no one died.

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French anti-terror police say El-Khazzani received instructions from Belgian jihadist Abdelhamid Abaaoud, with whom he'd worked in Syria as part of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Abaaoud was suspected of plotting multiple terror attacks in Belgium and France, including the November 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people. He was killed three days later in Saint-Denis, France.

El-Khazzani is being tried in Paris with three suspected accomplices.

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At trial, there will be testimony from three Americans and a British man who police said interrupted the attack.

The Americans are Anthony Sadler, who was then a 23-year-old California student, and Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, who were members of the U.S. armed forces. They, along with Briton Chris Norman, were later awarded France's Legion D'Honeur -- the nation's highest civilian commendation.

The attack and the efforts by the four men to stop it were dramatized in the 2018 film The 15:17 to Paris, which was directed by Clint Eastwood. Stone, Skarlatos, Sadler and Normal all played themselves in the film.

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A verdict in the trial is expected in mid-December.

President Barack Obama meets with three Americans who interrupted a terrorist attack on French train, in the Oval Office of the White House on September 17, 2015. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI

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