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Amsterdam-to-Paris train gunman linked to radical Islam

By pa reporter

Published 24/08/2015

Overpowered: Ayoub El-Khazzani
Overpowered: Ayoub El-Khazzani

The man who boarded a high-speed Amsterdam-to-Paris train with a Kalashnikov rifle before being tackled by passengers was on the radar of authorities in three countries, had ties to radical Islam and had travelled to Syria, officials said.

The attacker was identified by a French official close to the investigation as Ayoub El-Khazzani (26), who was known to authorities in France, Belgium and Spain.

Officials did not disclose a possible motive for the Friday attack, but interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the Spanish had advised French intelligence about the suspect because he belongs to the "radical Islamist movement".

Three people were injured, none seriously, and authorities credited American, French and British passengers with stopping El-Khazzani, who they was armed with the assault rifle, nine magazines, a pistol and a box cutter.

El-Khazzani was being questioned yesterday by French counter-terrorism police who confirmed through fingerprints their suspicions that he was the same man who had been brought to their attention in February 2014.

French authorities said he had lived in the Spanish city of Algeciras, frequenting a mosque which is under surveillance there.

He was transferred on Saturday morning to anti-terror police headquarters outside Paris and can be held for up to 96 hours.

A lawyer for El-Khazzani told French television station BFM that he had told her he only intended to rob the train and is "dumbfounded" that it is being treated as an act of terrorism."

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