Terrorist Is 'Dumbfounded' That He's Taken for a Terrorist
The terrorist who was thwarted in carrying out an attack on a French train by three Americans told his lawyer that authorities have it all wrong. He's not a terrorist at all, but was only hungry and wanted to rob passengers.
That's his story and he's sticking to it.
A gunman who attacked passengers on a high-speed train in France two days ago is "dumbfounded" at having been taken for an Islamist militant and says he only intended to rob people on board because he was hungry, his lawyer said on Sunday.
As details emerged of the gunman's early adult life in Spain, lawyer Sophie David said her client -- now in detention near Paris -- also looked ill and malnourished.
French and Spanish sources close to the case have identified him as a 26-year-old Moroccan named Ayoub el Khazzani who was known to European authorities as a suspected Islamist militant.
"(I saw) somebody who was very sick, somebody very weakened physically, as if he suffered from malnutrition, very, very thin and very haggard," David told BFMTV.
"He is dumbfounded by the terrorist motives attributed to his action," she added.
David said the man was barefoot and wore only a hospital shirt and boxer shorts for the police interrogation in Arras, northern France, where the train stopped after the incident.
The Moroccan told David he had found the Kalashnikov he had taken onto the train in a park near the Gare du Midi rail station in Brussels where he was in the habit of sleeping.
"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," David said.
The lawyer said the Moroccan had untreated wounds on his face when he spoke to her through an interpreter. He also told David he did not think he had fired any shots before his gun jammed.
Ah! A thousand pardons, Mr. Khazzani. Every thief walks around with an automatic weapon, 200 rounds of ammo, a pistol, and box cutters. Please accept our humble apologies for even thinking you were a terrorist.
Ms. David should be given credit for using a defense that's never been tried before: the hungry jihadist who only wanted some rich people to spot him a meal. I must say, that kind of thinking takes some moxie for David to think she can pull off.
Khazzani apparently went to Syria last year -- I'm sure it was to visit the Roman baths in Bosra.
Not to be outdone by David in absolving Khazzani of being a terrorist, the president of the Muslim community in the Spanish town where the terrorist had lived said, "He was an ordinary young man, he played football, went fishing, he worked to make a living."
Just the jihadist next door.
This guy's trial may bear watching if the lawyer and character witnesses are going to be this entertaining.