Thalys attacker's father: "He was a good boy, very hardworking"
Ayoub el Khazzani, the man who opened fire on a passenger train heading from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday, was "a good boy, very hardworking" who "never talked politics; just football and fishing".
This is according to Mohammed el Khazzani, the gunman's father, in an interview with British newspaper The Telegraph on Sunday. "I have no idea what he was thinking and I have not spoken to him for over a year", the shocked man said to the newspaper.
El Khazzani said that his family moved to Spain in 2007, first settling in Madrid and then moving to Algeciras. His son had a troubled spell in Madrid, and was arrested twice for selling hashish. "But he was only carrying a little bit, he was just a boy then", the father sad. Ayoub calmed down after the family moved away from Madrid.
According to El Khazzani, a French telecom company, who hired his son and five other Moroccan youths from the area 18 months ago, is to blame for his son's transformation. The youths were hired on six month contracts. "Then after one month they were just kicked out. So now he's in France, not Spain. What is he meant to do. What is he supposed to eat?" The father believes that Ayoub spent time in France and Belgium after losing his job.
He seemed surprised by his son's version of events - that he wanted to rob people on the train, according to The Telegraph. "It's all very strange", was all he said about the matter.
Other residents of the Algeciras neighborhood are also shocked by the incident. "He and his brother were very devout, they dressed like Afghans and all that, but I can't believe this", one young resident said to The Telegraph. "He would sit with us while we smoked joints, you know. He didn't smoke, but he didn't mind that we did."
"I only knew him from playing five-a-side in the neighborhood", another neighbor said to the newspaper. "I didn't talk about anything else with him but he was uptight, standoffish. He loved his football though."