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Islamist gunman behind failed 2015 Thalys train attack jailed for life by French court

Islamist gunman behind failed 2015 Thalys train attack jailed for life by French court
An Islamist militant who opened fire on a train bound for France during a thwarted terrorist attack in 2015 has been given a life sentence by a French court. The attacker was jumped by three Americans who helped foil his raid.

Moroccan citizen Ayoub El-Khazzani, 31, was convicted of attempted murder with the intent to commit terrorism after he fired gunshots on the high-speed Thalys service as it crossed the France-Belgium border, heading for Paris, on August 21, 2015.

Three other men were handed sentences of between seven and 27 years for helping El-Khazzani plot his attack, which involved him boarding the train while heavily armed and wounding two passengers, before he was overpowered by three US servicemen and some other passengers.

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After foiling the attack, the American trio – Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler – later starred as themselves in a Clint Eastwood-directed movie, ‘The 15:17 to Paris’. 

In his testimony, El-Khazzani said he had been ordered to carry out the attack by Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian terrorist of Moroccan origin who allegedly plotted the Paris massacres of November 2015 which killed 130 people.

El-Khazzani was with Abaaoud in Syria and traveled with him back to Brussels. The judge called him “a puppet” controlled by Abaaoud, who was killed by French special forces after the Paris attacks.

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During his trial, El-Khazzani told the court that his victims were to have included Americans and members of the European Commission.

Thursday’s ruling comes a day after 14 people were found guilty of being accomplices to the gunmen behind the Paris attacks that killed 17 people in January 2015.

The defendants were found to have provided financial and logistical support to a trio of attackers who murdered 12 people in the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, plus a policewoman and four other people at a Jewish supermarket. 

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