Gunman 'Dumbfounded' By Terror Claims

August 25, 2015, 6:12am

Gunman 'Dumbfounded' By Terror Claims

The train attacker only intended to rob passengers because he was hungry, his lawyer has claimed.

The suspected terrorist who attacked passengers on a high-speed train to Paris is "dumbfounded" at being labelled an Islamic militant, his lawyer has said.

The 26-year-old Moroccan was overpowered by three US citizens and a Briton, all of whom have been awarded France's highest honour in recognition of their bravery.

The gunman has been named as Ayoub el Khazzani, and was reportedly known to European authorities as a suspected Islamic militant.

But his lawyer, Sophie David, has told French TV that her client only intended to rob people because he was hungry.

"(I saw) somebody who was very sick, somebody very weakened physically, as if he suffered from malnutrition, very, very thin and very haggard," she told BFMTV.

"He is dumbfounded by the terrorist motives attributed to his action."

According to French officials, the man was armed with a Kalashnikov rifle, an automatic pistol and a knife.

Ms David said her client told her that he had found the Kalashnikov in a park in Brussels where he often slept.

"A few days later he decided to get on a train that some other homeless people told him would be full of wealthy people travelling from Amsterdam to Paris and he hoped to feed himself by armed robbery," she said.

But one of the US men who helped overpower the gunman has disputed the idea that the Moroccan man only intended to rob passengers.

"It doesn't take eight magazines to rob a train," 22-year-old US National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos said.

"The guy had a lot of ammo. His intentions seemed pretty clear."

The attack happened on a high speed Thalys service travelling between Amsterdam and Paris on Friday. Security is now being stepped up on the train service.

The father of Ayoub el Khazzani has been quoted by a Spanish newspaper as saying he could not believe his son was a terrorist.

"I wasn't on the train, but I don't think he was capable of doing something like that," Mohammed el Khazzani told El Mundo.

"They are saying Ayoub is a terrorist but I simply can't believe it.

"Why would he want to kill anyone? It makes no sense.

"The only terrorism he is guilty of is terrorism for bread, he doesn't have enough money to feed himself properly."

He said his son lived with him in Algeciras until he left for France in 2014.

Sky Newa