US passenger: I was ‘trying my best’ to kill train attacker

Alek Skarlatos
Alek Skarlatos (AP)
15:11pm, Fri 20 Nov 2020
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

One of three Americans who tackled a so-called Islamic State gunman aboard a Paris-bound train told a court that he tried “his best” to kill the attacker.

Testifying at the suspect’s trial, Alek Skarlatos said that he yanked a gun from the attacker’s hand, turned it on him and pulled the trigger.

However, the gun did not fire.

France Train Attack Trial (AP)

Mr Skarlatos said: “I was honestly trying my best to kill or restrain him.”

Ayoub El Khazzani, the attack suspect, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted of attempted terrorist murder. The 31-year-old Moroccan is being tried with three suspected accomplices.

The testimonies this week from passengers who disarmed the attacker on the train from Amsterdam have highlighted the split-second decisions that foiled what could have become a mass slaughter.

The passengers’ heroics on August 21 2015 inspired Clint Eastwood to direct a Hollywood movie re-enacting the dramatic events The 15:17 To Paris.

Spencer Stone (AP)

Mr Skarlatos and two friends, who he grew up with in California, were on holiday at the time.

One friend, Spencer Stone, pinned down the attacker in a stranglehold. Mr Skarlatos moved in too, joined by another passenger once the gunman was on the ground.

Mr Skarlatos said the gunman was “surprisingly difficult to control”.

With the attacker subdued, the train rerouted to Arras in northern France where El Khazzani was arrested.

Authorities say El Khazzani boarded the train in Brussels armed with the Kalashnikov, nine clips with 30 rounds each, an automatic pistol and a cutter.

Once aboard the train, El Khazzani lingered in a restroom between cars, where two other passengers confronted him, and then emerged bare-chested with his weapons.

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