Terrorism suspected in Thalys train attack, suspect's sister interrogated
The prosecutor in Paris has officially launched a formal judicial investigation for terrorism related activities against Ayoub el Khazzani - the man who committed the foiled attack on a Thalys train between Amsterdam and Paris on Friday.
Prosecutor Francois Mollins announced this in a press conference on Tuesday, news wire AP reports. This decision was made based on El Khazzani's actions and information that European authorities shared with France regarding the suspect.
According to Mollins, El Khazzani watched a jihad video on the internet a few minutes before committing the attack on the train. The man had several weapons, including a Kalashnikov assault rifle, on him and according the prosecutor, it is clear that El Khazzani had prepared for the attack beforehand. Mollins called it "far-fetched" that the suspect only wanted to rob the passengers as he claims. The suspect claims that he found the weapons in a park in Brussels.
On Tuesday El Khazzani's sister and her husband reported to the federal police in Brussels. They were interrogated for several hours before being allowed to turn home, NU reports based on a statement from Belgium's federal prosecutor. It is not clear what exactly they told the police.
Two houses were searched by the police in the Brussels municipality Molenbeek on Monday in connection with this investigation. According to the prosecutor, they were looking to establish the whereabouts of El Khazzani in the days and weeks leading up to the attack. No one was arrested or taken in for questioning in the raids, but several objects were confiscated. The prosecutor stated that these objects were not firearms, but would give no further information.
El Khazzani boarded the train between Amsterdam and Paris in Brussels on Friday. He started waving the Kalashnikov around, but was overpowered by several passengers before he could cause a bloodbath. Two people were injured, including one of the Americans who overpowered him and another passenger. The four passengers who overpowered El Khazzani - Americans Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Karlatos and Briton Chris Norman as well as the French passenger who was injured in the attack have all been awarded the Legion d'Honneur medal, France's highest honor.