A policeman in front of the Thalys after the attempted attack on August 21, 2015 -
Philippe Huguen AFP
Four men, involved in the attack on a Thalys connecting Paris to Amsterdam in August 2015, have been appearing before the special assize court since Monday.
Two people were injured.
Ayoub El Khazzani, who opened fire inside the train, responds to "attempted assassinations in connection with a terrorist enterprise" and "criminal terrorist association".
This Moroccan citizen, then 26 years old, was acting on the instruction of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, coordinator of the terrorist cell that struck France and Belgium in 2015 and 2016.
The court heard this Monday the testimonies of his mother and his two sisters.
At the special assize court in Paris,
At the special assize court in Paris,
" He shot ?
But he told me that he had not been able to shoot… ”At the helm of the special assize court, Zahra A., Ayoub El Khazzani's mother, confides her astonishment this Monday morning.
This 62-year-old woman, who wears a peach-colored veil, assures us that she was unaware that a Thalys passenger had been seriously injured after her son opened fire on August 21, 2015. "We do not endorse that", proclaims she, helped by an interpreter.
Before apologizing to the passengers of the train, she asks that justice be "lenient" with the 31-year-old jihadist, tried for eleven days, because "there was no death", and that he "regrets " His gesture.
Ayoub El Khazzani lived in Morocco, where he was born, until he was 18.
In 2007, he, his five brothers and sisters and their parents moved to Spain, to Madrid.
Salma, 22, remembers a "nice boy" who "worked a lot".
“We were brought up to do good to others,” she says, very moved.
His older brother had “character”, “he got angry sometimes but his interior was very pure”.
“He has never been aggressive,” adds the young woman, who wears a black veil and who speaks Spanish.
“In Spain, everything was normal, we were a reunited family, thank God.
There was love, warmth among the siblings, ”adds her 23-year-old sister Oumaina.
"I didn't want to have a problem"
The latter keeps in memory the memory of a brother who was “kind” and who had “a clean heart”.
However, already at the time, Ayoub El Khazzani had trouble with the Iberian justice.
“Like all teenagers,” Oumaina blows, he smoked cannabis.
“Not all teenagers do drug trafficking,” President Franck Zientara said.
"What he was doing outside, we couldn't see him," she replied.
"He was still condemned for that", recalls the magistrate.
In 2012, the family returned to Morocco.
Before returning to settle in Spain, in Algeciras.
The Spanish authorities indicated during the investigation that the accused and his brother Imram were known to call for jihad in Syria among the worshipers of the Taqwa mosque.
"He had an ordinary practice" of religion, argues Zahra, his mother.
“He was not praying,” she emphasizes.
" Is that so ?
I thought he had a normal practice ”, retorts the president.
Salma believes that Ayoub was not "under the influence" of their brother Imran.
If the latter, who was the imam of this mosque between 2012 and 2014, was expelled from Spain in February 2014, it is because he refused to collaborate with the Iberian intelligence services.
A few days earlier, Ayoub El Khazzani flew to France.
He works four months for the Lycamobile company.
On May 29, 2014, he boarded a bus in the direction of Brussels where his sister Oumaina and her husband, Karim B. live, in Molenbeek, near the snack bar run by Mohamed Abrini, known to be involved in the attacks of November 13 and Brussels.
After the attack, Oumaina had told investigators never to have lodged his brother.
"Why did you want to hide his presence in your home?"
»Asks the president of the court.
“I was confused, I didn't want to have a problem, to be involved in this.
I said that spontaneously.
"We all deserve a second chance in our lives"
In Belgium, Ayoub El Khazzani has been known to the intelligence services for radicalization since 2012. However, Oumaina says he had not set foot in this country, to his knowledge, before 2014. At home, Ayoub sleeps in the living room .
“Fishing was the activity he practiced the most, he helped me at home, went out with my son.
In May 2015, he vanished.
In fact, the young man went to Turkey.
He just called his older brother to let him know.
"Imran told me that Ayoub had contacted him from Turkey, he told me that those who were going there were to go to Syria", explains Oumaina, who claims to have been "shocked" by this new.
Never, she said, had he mentioned before her his plan to go to Syria to wage jihad.
“If I had heard him, I wouldn't have let him go.
“During a search of his home in Brussels, investigators found a suitcase belonging to his brother Ayoub, including a Macedonian note, a country he crossed on the return journey.
The police wondered if he had not gone to see her in Brussels, before boarding the Thalys in which he opened fire, obeying the orders of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the coordinator of the November 13 attacks.
But Oumaina assures that she has not seen him since leaving Turkey.
Since then, Ayoub has sworn to him that he has given up on committing an attack on the train.
“We don't have the details of what happened, all we know is through the media,” she continues.
"Doesn't he want to talk about it?"
Asks President Zientara.
“No, he's sad already, and I didn't want to push him down.
I got sick.
Psychologically, it really hit me.
Like her mother and younger sister, she apologizes to the court and to the victims on the train.
Before pleading the cause of his brother.
" It is my brother.
Through our mistakes we learn, we all make mistakes and sins, we all deserve a second chance in our lives.
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