Train gunman claims robbery motive; "dumbfounded" by Islamic terrorist label

Thalys attack
One of the injured in a shooting on a Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris. Aug. 21, 2015 (photo: Christina Cathleen Coons / Twitter / @FreedomFilmLLC). (One of the injured in a shooting on a Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris. Aug. 21, 2015 (photo: Christina Cathleen Coons / Twitter / @FreedomFilmLLC))

The gunman who attacked a passenger train on its way from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday, intended to rob the passengers and is "dumbfounded" by the claims that he would be an Islamic terrorist.

This is according to Sophie David, the gunman's lawyer, on Sunday, news agency Reuters reports. French and Spanish sources have identified the gunman as 26 year old Ayoub el Khazani, of Moroccan descent. He is known to European authorities as a suspected jihadist, according to the news agency.

David stated that he attacked the train with the intention to rob the passengers because he was hungry. "He is dumbfounded by the terrorist motives attributed to his action", she added. He told the lawyer that he had found the Kalashnikov he used in a park near the Gare du Midi train station in Brussels, where he sometimes slept. Some other homeless people told him that the train between Amsterdam and Paris is usually full of wealthy people. "And he hoped to feed himself by armed robbery", David said.

The lawyer described her client as looking ill and malnourished. She saw "somebody who was very sick, somebody weakened physically, as if he suffered from malnutrition, very, very thin and very haggard", David said to CNN affiliate BFMTV. She added that her client had untreated wounds on his face when she spoke to him and that he told her that he thinks he did not fire any shots before he was over powered.

On Saturday the French Minister of Home Affairs Bernard Cazeneuve said that "several shots' had been fired before the gunman was subdued by passengers on the train - three Americans Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Karlatos, Briton Chris Norman and an unnamed French national. According to the French Minister, the man was armed with a Kalashnikov with nine magazines of ammunition, a Luger automatic pistol with extra ammo and a box cutter, CNN reports.

"He kept pulling more weapons left and right", Stone said to CNN. "He seemed like he was ready to fight to the end. So were we."

Two passengers were injured during the struggle. Stone received several cuts to his head, neck and hand. He was hospitalized for a day and released on Sunday, according to CNN. The other injured passenger is still in hospital in a serious but stable condition, Reuters reports.

According to Spanish officials, Ayoub el Khazani and his family moved to Spain from Morocco in 2007. He was arrested at least once on drug trafficking chargers, sources said to Reuters. The Spanish authorities identified him to French intelligece services in February 2014 "because of his connection to the radical Islamist movement" Cazeneuve said.

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