Train assault heroes to get France's highest honour

Anthony Sadler, Aleck Skarlatos and Chris Norman with their Legion d'Honneur medals (Picture: Twitter/@Sharkie_Holland). (Anthony Sadler, Aleck Skarlatos and Chris Norman with their Legion d'Honneur medals (Picture: Twitter/@Sharkie_Holland))

Four of the passengers who overpowered and subdued a Moroccan gunman on a crowded train from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday, received France's highest honor - the Legion d'Honneur medal.

The medal was given to the four heroes - Americans Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Karlatos and Briton Chris Norman - by French President Francois Hollande in a ceremony at the Elysee Palace on Monday, French news agency France24 reports. The ceremony was also attended by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and United States Ambassador to Paris Jane Hartley. President Hollande personally thanked the group for their bravery.

Ayoub el Khazzani boarded the high speed train in Brussels on Friday carrying a Klashnikov, a hand gun, ammunition and a box cutter. He was first confronted by a French passenger, but managed to get away. He opened fire and injured one man, a French-American traveler, before being over powered by US Air Force Serviceman Spencer Stone, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, and student Anthony Sadler. Chris Norman helped tie him up. Stone was also injured in the struggle. The French-American traveler is still in hospital in a serious, but stable condition.

Both the French passenger who first confronted the gunman, and the injured passenger who is still in hospital, will also receive the Legion d'Honneur.

El Khazzani's lawyer, Sophie David, stated on Sunday that her client is "dumbfounded" by claims that he was trying to commit a terrorist attack. According to him, he wanted to rob the train passengers.

In an interview with British newspaper The Telegraph, the gunman's father, Mohammed el Khazzani, said that his son was a "good boy" and "very hard working". He preferred to talk about "football and fishing", and never had anything to say about politics.