[guest post by Dana]
Two U.S. Marines are being called heroes tonight for taking down a terrorist armed with a Kalashnikov, a handgun and cartridges on train in France:
The two unarmed servicemen spotted the 26-year-old Moroccan acting suspiciously and heard him trying to arm his weapon in the toilet of the high speed train between Amsterdam and Paris.
The gunman got on the train in Brussels and attempted his attack soon after crossing the French border.
The 26-year-old Moroccan national, who was known to security services, came out of the toilet brandishing the gun and opened fire. Fortunately, two US Marines were nearby and overpowered him before he could massacre passengers.
The suspected terrorist had at least nine full magazines of ammunition holding almost 300 rounds. He was also carrying a knife.
Unfortunately, one of the Marines was shot and is believed to be in a critical condition. It is feared that he was shot in the neck by the gunman.
The terrorist was already known to officials:
French media claim that the suspect was previously known to French security services and was living in Spain. He has already been linked to a number of radical Islamic groups. He was classed, according to FranceInfo.fr as ‘potentially dangerous’.
Belgian journalist Marin Buxant Tweeted that the US Marines were on leave in Brussels when they spotted the man and followed him on the train. When the suspect went into the toilet, the Marines recognised the sound of a weapon being armed and decided to act immediately.
From the French Interior Minister:
‘Thanks to them we have averted a drama.
‘(The Americans were) particularly courageous and showed extreme bravery in extremely difficult circumstances.’
While French officials claim it’s far too soon to call it a terrorist attack, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, clearly a realistic and rational man, is doing just that, calling it a straight-up terrorist attack.
Spanish newspaper El País says the attacker’s name is Ayoub El Kahzzani, a 26-year-old Moroccan who was known to secret services.
El País reports that Spanish anti-terrorist sources say that he “had residency” in Spain for a year until 2014, when he moved to France. The same sources say he travelled to Syria and returned to France soon after.
From an eyewitness:
I saw the two wounded men being taken off the train by firemen. One had a wound in the neck and the other in the hand. I saw the gunmen and I think he had five Kalashnikov magazines so he could recharge. His rifle had a short handle so it was more compact and he also had a handgun and knives. It could have been carnage if not for the Americans. I saw the gunmen, tied up, lying on the platform. He had blood on his face but didn’t appear to be seriously hurt.
God Bless these two brave Marines and all who wear the uniform. What a wonderful opportunity for President Obama to publicly pay tribute to these heroic Marines and remind the world that the U.S. Marine Corps is the most revered and respected fighting force around. May the president be bursting with pride to be their Commander in Chief.
UPDATE: Those involved in taking down the suspect were not Marines after all:
US airman Spencer Stone, who on board the train during the attack, spotted the 26-year-old Moroccan acting suspiciously and heard him trying to load his weapon in the toilet.
He was travelling with Oregon National Guard member Alek Skarlatos, 22, who was on leave and travelling through Europe at the time after returning from a tour in Afghanistan.
With the help of their friend Anthony Sadler, from Pittsburg, California, and fellow passenger British IT consultant Chris Norman, they managed to wrestle the attacker to the ground, stopping what could have been a deadly terrorist attack.
And, horribly, this from a passenger:
‘Suddenly, members of the crew ran into the hallway and their faces were pale.’
He said the staff hurried towards their own car on the train and opened it ‘with a special key’ before they locked themselves inside.
Mr Anglade claims he and other passengers banged on the door and shouted at staff to open up, but their cries for help were ignored.
He said: ‘Nobody replied, there was radio silence. It was terrible and unbearable, it was inhumane.