Life confirmed on appeal for Ayoub El Khazzani

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A special assize court sentenced Moroccan Ayoub El Khazzani to life imprisonment on appeal on Thursday for “attempted terrorist assassinations”. He had been mandated by the Islamic State group to carry out a failed attack on a Thalys train in August 2015.

The perpetrator of the failed attack on a Thalys train in August 2015, Ayoub El Khazzani, was again sentenced on appeal to life imprisonment on Thursday, December 8. The Moroccan had been mandated by the Islamic State (IS) group. He was sentenced for “attempted terrorist assassinations”.

The special assize court carried out by David Hill followed to the letter the requisitions of the public prosecutor confirming the decision of first instance.

The 33-year-old Moroccan’s sentence was accompanied by a 22-year security period and a permanent ban from the territory at the end of his imprisonment. Standing in his box, the accused accepted the verdict without reacting.

During the appeal hearing, Ayoub El Khazzani delivered “little useful information to the investigation”, revealed David Hill in announcing the verdict. “There is a doubt about the work of questioning” of the accused, he continued.

Invited in the morning to speak before the verdict, Ayoub El Khazzani had been part of his “regrets” and his “shame” for the act he had to accomplish.

During his trial at first instance, in December 2020, Ayoub El Khazzani had already been sentenced to life imprisonment. He has been in solitary confinement since his incarceration began in August 2015.

During this second trial, the accused repeated, as during the first, that he did not want “to kill civilians, women or children”.

He explained in essence that he wanted to target officials of the European Commission, guilty in his eyes of “giving orders to the coalition forces for the bombardments in Syria”.

He also expressed “regret” for his murderous scheme and said he was “happy” that there were no deaths.

“If there was not a single death” in the aborted attack on the Thalys Amsterdam-Paris train on August 21, 2015, “it is not thanks to Ayoub Khazzani but to the heroic intervention of passengers” from the train, noted Wednesday, the Advocate General in his indictment.

During the hearing, Ayoub El Khazzani was unable to explain how he could have distinguished Commission officials from other passengers.

Courageous passenger intervention

He boarded the train in Brussels with an impressive arsenal: a Kalashnikov with nine magazines containing nearly 300 ammunition, a semi-automatic pistol, a cutter and a bottle filled with flammable liquid.

Ayoub El Khazzani was only able to commit a massacre by the courageous intervention of several passengers, including two American soldiers in civilian clothes and unarmed while on vacation in Europe. Before being subdued, he used his weapons, blessing with a bullet in the back a passenger who had managed to seize his Kalashnikov.

The purpose of the Thalys attack was “to cause as many victims as possible”, argued the prosecution during the trial.

The sponsor of the upset shooter was Abdelhamid Abaaoud, an IS recruiter, future coordinator of the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis.

Ayoub El Khazzani hid from investigators his links with Abdelhamid Abaaoud until the death of the latter, killed by the police in Saint-Denis five days after the attacks of November 13.

Did he know of the plans for attacks on Paris? He said nothing and especially not revealed that Abdelhamid Abaaoud was in Brussels in the summer of 2015, and no longer in Syria, as the revealed intelligence services then thought.

It was Abdelhamid Abaaoud himself who trained him in the handling of weapons during his stay in Syria in May 2015, acknowledged Ayoub El Khazzani. And it was together that they smuggled to Europe in August 2015.

“Ayoub El Khazzani could not say anything because he knew nothing”, supported by his counsel, Me Martin Méchin.

According to the prosecution, there is no doubt that the failed attack on the Thalys was part “of a real campaign of mass attacks which finds its peak” in the attacks of November 13 in Paris and in March 2016 in Brussels.

With AFP


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