A passenger on a train of heroes who was shot and killed trying to snatch an AK-47 from a terrorist during the 2015 Paris access attack said he did so to protect his wife.
Mark Moogalian, 56, was part of a group of men who fought and disarmed the terrorist Ayoub El Khazzani, 31, after he emerged from a bathroom on the train with an AK-47 rifle and intended to "shoot Americans".
When Mr Moogalian testified at Khazzani's trial in Paris on Thursday, he said, “I was trying to protect Isabelle.
“There is no way I would let anything happen to her. I would do my best. & # 39;
Mark Moogalian, 56 (right), who was shot in the neck while disarming Parisian train terrorist Ayoub El Khazzani in 2015, said he took action to protect Ms. Isabelle (left).
The trial of El Khazzani for the foiled attack on the Amsterdam-Paris train on August 21, 2015 began on Monday in Paris, France. Pictured: A court sketch shows El Khazzani in the dock of the Paris courthouse
Mr Moogalian, a US-born Frenchman who was 51 years old at the time of the attack, told the court that he was intrigued to see Khazzani enter the bathroom with a suitcase and went on a check-up. Moogalian and another passenger known as Damien were standing in front of the toilet when Khazzani appeared.
After Mr. Moogalian ran back to his seat to tell his wife to take cover, he managed to wrest the Kalashnikov from Khazzani. He ran away shouting, "I have the gun," before Khazzani shot him in the back with a pistol.
He told the court that when he fell to the ground thinking he was going to die, he saw Khazzani lean over him to recover the Kalashnikov.
"I thought he was going to kill me, but he didn't shoot when the gun jammed," he said, adding that he would then "fly" another passenger, US soldier Spencer Stone, and on Saw Khazzani jump.
"I was so happy that the cavalry had arrived," said Moogalian, who starred in Clint Eastwood's film about the attack, "The 15:17 to Paris".
Stone, an aviator, is credited with saving his life by putting pressure on the wound.
Mr. Moogalian added, “We are all very lucky. It took us five or six to prevent a real disaster. & # 39;
"All I know is that he shot me and had a lot of ammunition with him, enough to kill a lot of people."
In a statement read before investigators and in court, a French national who wanted to remain anonymous said he grabbed the attacker by the neck and pushed him into a corner so that he could not use his gun.
"Without thinking, I jumped on him with both of my hands and squeezed hard while strangling him," said the man, who only wanted to be identified by his first name, Damien.
Damien, who was 28 at the time, said he managed to hold Khazzani back for about 15 seconds.
Then he turned to me and pointed his gun at me. I think his gun failed because I didn't hear a shot, ”he said.
Stone was also on the stand as a star witness, but never showed up after being hospitalized on his arrival in Paris.
Stone's attorney, Thibault de Montbrial, said he could not provide details of what was wrong with Stone and could not say if he could go to court another day.
“I know he's going to be hospitalized. I do not know why. I don't know how he's doing, 'said de Montbrial.
“I'm just sure that he won't be able to testify today. We will regroup tonight to judge whether it will be heard tomorrow morning or afternoon. & # 39;
Spencer Stone, who was supposed to appear as a star witness at the trial of 31-year-old Islamist Ayoub El Khazzani in Paris, was hospitalized in the French capital on Thursday. Pictured: French President Francois Hollande said goodbye to US aviators Stone, Alek Skarlatos (second from left) and Anthony Sadler (right) in 2015 after foiling the attempted terrorist attack on the Amsterdam-Paris train
The then 23-year-old Stone was one of the passengers who defeated El Khazzani in 2015 on board the train from Amsterdam to Paris.
Her exploits during the foiled attack inspired Clint Eastwood to direct a Hollywood reenactment The 15:17 to Paris.
El Khazzani, a 31-year-old Moroccan, got on the train in Brussels, armed with a Kalashnikov, nine clips with 30 rounds each, an automatic pistol and a cutter, the investigators said.
When El Khazzani was on the train, he lingered in a toilet between the cars and appeared naked with his weapons.
Stone's exploits during the foiled attack inspired Clint Eastwood to direct a Hollywood reenactment of The 3:17 pm to Paris. Pictured: Stone (left) and Sadler (center) talk to Director Eastwood on the set of the film
Stone (2nd from left), Magoolian, Anthony Sadler (left) and Alek Skarlatos (right) were awarded a medal of honor by the then French President Francois Hollande
Stone said he was out of a deep sleep when the shooter showed up. He and Alek Skarlatos, then a 22-year-old US National Guard who had recently returned from Afghanistan, went into action and attacked the shooter.
The soldiers were supported by their friend Anthony Sadler, with whom they hiked through Europe.
Skarlatos is supposed to testify on Friday.
Stone, Magoolian, Sadler and Skarlatos were awarded a Medal of Honor in 2015 by the then French President Francois Hollande.
El Khazzani risks life in prison if convicted of attempted terrorist murder.
The other three who were not on the train will also be brought to justice for their role as alleged accomplices.
The 24-year-old Bilal Chatra, an Algerian member of IS, would have been the second man on the train, but would have got out of the conspiracy a week earlier.
He had left Syria for Europe a week earlier to set up the exit route, the prosecutors said.
Mohamed Bakkali is said to have recorded the attackers living in Europe in Budapest, Hungary, which he denies. The two were arrested in Germany in 2016.
A third man, Redouane El Amrani Ezzerrifi, is believed to have piloted a boat to help them return to Europe.
The trial serves as a bridge to the massacre of 130 people in Paris three months later, on November 13, 2015, in the Bataclan music hall as well as in restaurants and cafes.
The man, Abdel Hamid Abaaoud, who was seen as the likely mastermind behind these attacks, was the behind-the-scenes force behind the planned attack in Syria, according to prosecutors.
Abaaoud traveled with El Khazzani from Syria to Belgium to organize attacks in Europe and, according to the prosecutor, was entrenched with him and Chatra in an apartment in Brussels.
Abaaoud was killed by French special forces days after the Bataclan attack.
But before his death, his macabre organizational skills were used in a failed plan to attack a church south of Paris in April 2015, in which a young woman died.
Sid Ahmed Ghlam was convicted and sentenced to life in prison earlier this month.
The US male attorney Thibault de Montbrial said in court that her "very courageous intervention" prevented a "slaughter" the Monday before the November 16 trial
In the picture: Relatives of the man who is accused of the foiled terrorist attack arrive in court on Monday
El Khazzani "followed Abaaoud knowingly, but it has been years since he was in a jihadist mindset," his lawyer Sarah Mauger-Poliak said in a telephone interview.
"He is very upset and regrets being indoctrinated into propaganda."
The propaganda developed into a conspiracy to kill allegedly captured passengers.
Yesterday a judge ruled that Clint Eastwood could not be called to testify in the trial.
The Hollywood director was listed among potential witnesses after Khazzani's attorney asked him to give him a call, claiming the 90-year-old could "shed light on" the authenticity of the scenes portrayed in his film.
However, the film does not show this alleged change of heart. The defense attorney feared the film might affect people's view of the attack.
She wanted to ask Eastwood what instructions he had given the actors as a director.
Anti-terrorist prosecutors denied the lawyer’s request.
They said Eastwood was absent from the incident and there was no point in visiting the older man in the middle of a pandemic. They accused the defense of trying to "cause a stir".
The judge denied the motion, arguing that Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos would testify on Thursday and Friday.
The process continues
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