French court sentences 2015 Thalys train attacker to life imprisonment

Belgian police officers stand guard on a platform at the Thalys high-speed train terminal at Brussels, Belgium.

An Islamist militant who opened fire aboard a high-speed train travelling through northern Europe but was overpowered by three Americans before he killed anyone was sentenced to life in jail by a French court on Friday.

Moroccan national Ayoub el Khazzani was heavily armed when he launched his attack moments after the Thalys train crossed into France from Belgium on August 21, 2015.

A Paris court found the defendant guilty of attempted murder with intent to commit terrorism.

The attack was thwarted by passengers. Among them were three Americans, two of whom were in the military at the time, who rushed Khazzani and disarmed him.

Clint Eastwood, the U.S. actor and director, made a movie based on the events entitled “The 15:17 to Paris”.

France was at the time of the Thalys incident still recovering from the trauma of Islamist militant attacks in Paris seven months earlier against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

The three attackers were killed by police but 14 accomplices were convicted in a separate trial on Wednesday of crimes ranging from financing terrorism to membership of a criminal gang.

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