France Train Gunman 'Dumbfounded' by Terrorist Claim

Ayoub el Khazzani wasn't out to kill people, lawyer says
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2015 5:00 PM CDT
Updated Aug 23, 2015 5:30 PM CDT
France Train Gunman 'Dumbfounded' by Terrorist Claim
A French police officer patrols at Gare du Nord train station in Paris, France, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015.   (AP Photo/Binta)

The gunman accused of attempting mass-murder on a French train is apparently "dumbfounded" that people are taking him for an Islamic terrorist. His lawyer, Sophie David, describes 26-year-old Moroccan Ayoub el Khazzani as a hungry man planning to rob people for food money, Reuters reports. "(I saw) somebody who was very sick, somebody very weakened physically, as if he suffered from malnutrition, very, very thin and very haggard," David says. "He is dumbfounded by the terrorist motives attributed to his action." She says Khazzani found his weapon, an AK-47, in a Brussels park where he often slept. "A few days later he decided to get on a train that some other homeless people told him would be full of wealthy people traveling from Amsterdam to Paris and he hoped to feed himself by armed robbery," says David.

David adds that Khazzani thought his gun had jammed before he got off a shot in the train melee. But French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says "several shots" went off, and the Telegraph reports that Franco-American professor Mark Moogalian, 51, was shot in the neck after he grabbed Khazzani's AK-47 and the assailant fired another gun at him. As for alleged terrorism, Cazeneuve says Spanish authorities linked him to "the radical Islamist movement," and security officials say he traveled to Turkey and Syria earlier this year—which Khazzani denies through his lawyer, the BBC reports. Others say Khazzani had been arrested for drug trafficking at least once. "He was an ordinary young man, he played football, went fishing, he worked to make a living," says a Muslim figure in the Spanish port of Algeciras, where Khazzani lived. (More terrorism stories.)

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