Pros­e­cu­tors charge Moroccan for at­tack on high-speed train

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY ERIC RAN­DOLPH

Pros­e­cu­tors have charged a Moroccan man over last week’s at­tack on a high-speed French train, ac­cus­ing him of a “tar­geted and pre­med­i­tated” ji­hadist as­sault that would have ended in car­nage had pas­sen­gers not in­ter­vened.

Ay­oub El Khaz­zani, a Moroccan na­tional, has been charged with at­tempted mur­der of a ter­ror­ist na­ture and re­manded in cus­tody, ac­cord­ing to the pros­e­cu­tor’s sub­mis­sions.

Ear­lier Tues­day, Paris pros­e­cu­tor Fran­cois Molins said Khaz­zani had boarded a high-speed train in Brus­sels Fri­day armed with a Kalash­nikov as­sault ri­fle and 270 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion, as well as a Luger pis­tol, a bot­tle of ga­so­line and a box-cut­ter.

Khaz­zani’s claims that he was only plan­ning to rob pas­sen­gers were “barely cred­i­ble,” said Molins, adding that he had grown in­creas­ingly eva­sive in his re­sponses to po­lice and stopped re­spond­ing en­tirely on Mon­day.

Molins out­lined a raft of ev­i­dence in­di­cat­ing why Khaz­zani was be­ing probed for “at­tempted mur­der” as part of a “tar­geted and pre­med­i­tated” ter­ror­ist plot.

This in­cluded the fact that Khaz­zani flew back in June from a town in south­ern Tur­key — “a pos­si­ble pas­sage­way into Syria” — and that he watched a video “call­ing for vi­o­lent acts in the name of rad­i­cal Is­lam” on his phone prior to launch­ing the at­tack.

Molins also raised sus­pi­cions about how Khaz­zani was able to af­ford a 149-euro ( US$171) first class train ticket, given his claims to be sleep­ing rough in Brus­sels.

Ticket sellers at the sta­tion have told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that Khaz­zani paid in cash and turned down an ear­lier jour­ney where seats were avail­able, which Molins said was an in­di­ca­tion the at­tack had been care­fully planned in ad­vance.

He also dis­missed as “ab­surd” claims by the sus­pect that he found the stash of weapons and mo­bile phone in a park where he was sleep­ing rough the night be­fore.

And he said that Khaz­zani’s Face­book page had mys­te­ri­ously been dis­abled on Satur­day — the day af­ter the foiled at­tack.

The ju­di­cial source said Khaz­zani was also charged with weapons of­fences re­lated to ter­ror­ism, and “par­tic­i­pa­tion in a ter­ror­ist as­so­ci­a­tion with a view to or­ga­niz­ing one or sev­eral dam­ag­ing crimes.”

AFP

Paris chief pros­e­cu­tor Fran­cois Molins de­liv­ers a speech on Wed­nes­day, Aug. 25 in Paris dur­ing a press con­fer­ence con­cern­ing Ay­oub El-Khaz­zani, the sus­pect in the Fri­day, Aug. 21 Thalys train at­tack.

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