Tuesday, January 26

“I aimed at his head and I couldn’t”: at the trial of the Thalys attack, the gunman’s version

This August 21, 2015, after having had a coffee at Brussels station, the Moroccan boarded the Amsterdam-Paris train, equipped with a Kalashnikov and three hundred ammunition. He is acting on the orders of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who arrived with him in Europe from Syria to lead the jihadist cell which will also coordinate the attacks of November 2015 in Paris and March 2016 in Brussels.

I sat down in my place. I started looking for the people he told me about, American soldiers, people from the European Commission. Honestly it was to kill them“, says the accused, 31, in a white sports jacket, his hands crossed in front of him.

I looked around, saw women, old men … I hesitated. Then I spotted the Americans“, he continues.

– “How did you recognize them?“, asks the president.

– “Abaaoud had explained to me that they were young, strong, that they spoke English“.

– “That’s all ?

– “Yes“.

– “It’s still very light“, note, skeptical, the president, who will not get answers either on”the European Commission“that Ayoub El Khazzani was also ordered to target.

– “I could not” –

I made the decision to attack the American soldiers“, continues the accused via an interpreter. He searches on the internet for a religious song. Abdelhamid Abaooud”told me + it will give you the desire, the determination +“, he adds.

I went to the bathroom, I was in complete hesitation … I said to myself + I’m going to kill people +, I was in a state … as if I was going to throw myself off a cliff“, continues Ayoub El Khazzani, who describes his”heart beating in the throat“. “I opened the suitcase, put my backpack (filled with ammunition) in front of me, my pistol in my belt and my Kalashnikov in my hand. I was shaking“.

When he comes out of the toilet, he finds himself face to face with Mark Moogalian, English teacher at the Sorbonne. “He smiled at me. When I saw her smile, it reminded me that these are people, humans that I will kill“.

He makes him “a nod for him to leave“. But the passenger grabs the Kalashnikov so Ayoub El Khazzani pulls out his pistol and shoots him in the back.”I was aiming for the hand“, he maintains,”it was a reflex“.

In the front row in the courtroom, Mr. Moogalian, seriously injured in the attack, listens with his head bowed, his hand in his wife’s.

Ayoub El Khazzani then said he spotted Spencer Stone, the US Air Force soldier on vacation with friends. “I aimed at his head … I couldn’t. I can’t explain it to you, it was too much (…) I let him catch me“.

– “Not civilians” –

Several witnesses said they saw him cock his assault rifle and heard metallic clicks.

The prosecution claims that Ayoub El Khazzani was prevented from committing a massacre on the train because of faulty ammunition and the intervention of passengers who overpowered him.

For several hours, the president questions the one who presents himself today as a repentant jihadist on the details of the operation, asks him to “play fair“.

I do not know“, “I have not asked“, “it was Abaaoud who told me to“… he answers softly, evoking many”black holes“.

-“It’s a little worrying, you don’t ask any questions“, exasperated the president.


-“Are you actually a puppet?

– “Yes“.

With the hindsight we have today“, says the lawyer of the Americans, Me Thibault de Montbrial,”We know that 100% of the attacks planned by Abaaoud are mass attacks. Why would the Thalys have been the exception?

Ayoub El Khazzani, whose voice had filled with sobs as he recalled the Western bombing of civilians in Syria, raised his voice slightly. “Because I had set my conditions“, he replies,”not civilians“.



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