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Opening of the appeal trial of the foiled Thalys attack

If he refused to speak on the facts, assuring that he will do so “when the time comes”, the accused agreed to clarify certain elements of his personality by defining himself in particular as “very rigorous but not radicalized” .

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Opening of the appeal trial of the foiled Thalys attack

If he refused to speak on the facts, assuring that he will do so “when the time comes”, the accused agreed to clarify certain elements of his personality by defining himself in particular as “very rigorous but not radicalized” .

"The radicalization started" by attending mosques in Belgium in May 2014, a year before his brief stay in Syria in the ranks of the Islamic State (IS) organization, he explained.

Ayoub El Khazzani assured that he distanced himself from Islamist ideology after the attacks of November 13, 2015 and that of Nice on July 14, 2016. "However, detention reports speak of a jubilant attitude after the attacks of November 13, 2016. “, noted President David Hill.

"No, it's not true," defends the accused.

"What was your feeling about these attacks?" Insists the magistrate.

"I was curious," replied the accused. "It made me think of the massacres in Syria. We don't touch civilians."

However, if Ayoub El Khazzani, 33, is again before an Assize Court, it is for having wanted to commit a massacre of civilians on the Thalys Amsterdam-Paris train.

On August 21, 2015, he boarded this train in Brussels armed with a Kalashnikov, a semi-automatic pistol, a cutter and nearly 300 munitions.

He had been prevented from committing a massacre only by the "heroic" intervention, according to the Assize Court which judged him at first instance, of several passengers, including three American soldiers in civilian clothes then on vacation.

These three Americans, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone, decorated with the Legion of Honor and who received French nationality in February 2019 for having "risked their lives for the values ​​of the Republic", should testify on November 29.

In accordance with the requisitions of the public prosecutor, the court sentenced Ayoub El Khazzani to life imprisonment for "attempted terrorist assassinations". His sentence had been accompanied by a security period of twenty-two years and a permanent ban from French territory after his sentence.

- "Torture blanche" - 

Incarcerated since August 2015, he has been in solitary confinement since that date. "I'm not complaining but it's hard, it's white torture, it's a real hassle, a nightmare... But I accept, I know what I've done," he said. he says.

During the first trial, Ayoub El Khazzani explained that he wanted to "revenge" the civilian victims of the bombardments of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the international coalition.

It was during a short stay in Syria in May 2015 that he was trained by Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the future coordinator of the November 13 attacks, who told him how to satisfy his desire for revenge.

"Abaaoud knows how to manipulate, throw oil on the fire", explained the accused.

It was in the company of the same Abdelhamid Abaaoud that Ayoub El Khazzani had reached Europe in August 2015 by taking "the Balkan route" via Turkey, Greece and Hungary.

During the first trial, Ayoub El Khazzani had also maintained that he had received the sole mission of his sponsor to kill American soldiers and members of the European Commission present on board the train.

This explanation had been deemed "fanciful" by the court.

The goal of Ayoub El Khazzani, who presented himself as "a noble IS fighter", was to kill "blindly and indiscriminately" the 200 or so passengers on the train, the court had underlined.

According to the judges, the failed attack on the Thalys was part "in a real campaign of mass attacks which finds its peak" in the attacks of November 13 in Paris and in March 2016 in Brussels.

The appeal trial is scheduled until December 9.

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