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WASHINGTON (AP) – Aleksander Skarlatos, one of three Americans who subdued a heavily armed gunman on a Paris-bound train, will be awarded one of the U.S. Army’s highest honors.

Senior Army leaders say Skarlatos, a member of the Oregon National Guard, will get the Soldiers Medal – the Army’s highest award for acts of heroism not involving actual conflict with the enemy.

Skarlatos was traveling from Amsterdam when the gunman emerged from a train lavatory carrying an AK-47 and a Lugar pistol. After hearing the sound of gunfire, Skarlatos called on other passengers to act, then charged the gunman, helped wrestle his firearms away and helped knock him unconscious with his own rifle.

“Spec. Skarlatos’ actions that day epitomize what we mean by a soldier of character – one who lives by a personal code where dedication to duty and taking care of others is sacred,” said Army Secretary John McHugh.

Skarlatos is in Germany with his friend, U.S. Air Force Airman Spencer Stone, who is undergoing treatment for injuries suffered in the attack. The third American, Anthony Sadler, returned home Tuesday by commercial plane to Sacramento International Airport, accompanied by his parents.

President Francois Hollande gave all three his country’s highest award, the Legion d’Honneur, for their actions in subduing the gunman on the high-speed train carrying 500 passengers.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Article source: http://www.12newsnow.com/story/29879959/oregon-guardsman-who-helped-stop-train-attack-to-be-honored


In de wintermaanden zijn wij begonnen met live muziek op de zondagmiddag in onze serrezaal.

VIEW Events is druk bezig met het organiseren van evenementen op het terras in het voorjaar en de zomer. Een aantal data zijn al vastgelegd, de thema’s houden wij nog even geheim. Wel kunnen wij vast verklappen dat er regelmatig een dj op het terras te vinden is. De dj zal ondersteund worden door iemand die live met een instument meespeelt. 

Article source: http://www.viewalmere.nl/events/


De discussie is inmiddels al zo’n 40 jaar oud, maar nog steeds actueel: vormen initiatieven als islamitische scholen, migrantenorganisaties (zelforganisaties), huiswerkbegeleidingsprojecten e.d. een brug naar de samenleving of werken ze segregatie in de hand? Misschien is de vraag in hoeverre deze o…

Article source: https://www.avanti-almere.nl/events


(CNN)A British man who helped subdue an apparent would-be attacker on a train in France said Tuesday that he preferred to die trying over sitting and waiting for a near-certain death.

“My position was, I’m not going to be the guy who dies sitting down,” Chris Norman told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday. “If you’re going to die, try to do something about it.”

Norman was among four people, including three Americans, who overpowered a man armed with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle Friday on a train from Amsterdam to Paris. Their actions are thought to have saved many lives.

The gunman has been identified by police as Ayoub El Khazzani, a 25-year-old Moroccan now charged by French authorities with attempted murder, attempted mass murder and membership in a terrorist organization.

For their actions, the four men who subdued El Khazzani were awarded the French Legion of Honor on Monday.

    A fifth man, French-American Mark Moogalian, who tried to take away the gunman’s rifle before the other four got involved, will receive his own Legion of Honor when he recovers from his injuries.

    Norman said that, at the award ceremony, he and French President Francois Hollande had a conversation in which they discussed the importance of everyone participating in the fight against terrorism.

    Police cannot be everywhere, Norman said.

    “I think as citizens, we need to really move forward and we need to take some of the responsibility for it,” he said, referring to the battle against terrorism. “Whether it is simply being more vigilant or by preparing yourself for action if ever you do find yourself in that situation.

    “I’m not an expert in the area but I do think we need to figure out how to harness the power of the citizens,” he said.

    Norman told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he and the others who subdued the apparent would-be attacker, though they had never met, acted as a team during the take-down.

    He has had a chance since Sunday to talk with the others — Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, three American friends on vacation in Europe — about those critical events.

    “I think we’ve got a pretty strong bond,” he said.

    Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/25/europe/france-train-attack-norman/


(CNN)He was armed for a massacre.

Ayoub El Khazzani, the suspected gunman who was overtaken by passengers on a Thalys train in France last week, carried with him an AKM assault rifle with 270 rounds of ammunition, a Luger M80 automatic pistol with a full cartridge, a box-cutter and a water-bottle-sized container full of gasoline, according to French Prosecutor Francois Molins.

“According to all of the witness accounts we’ve gathered … (El Khazzani) wouldn’t have hesitated to use all the arms in his possession — assault rifle, pistol and box-cutter — if it wasn’t for the remarkable intervention of the passengers,” Molins told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Moroccan has been charged with attempted murder, attempted mass murder and membership in a terrorist organization, the prosecutor said — because the gunman wanted to kill all the passengers on the train.

Train attack thwarted in FranceSpencer Stone, one of the passengers who overpowered the gunman who had an assault rifle on a high-speed train, gestures as he leaves the hospital of Lesquin, northern France, on Saturday, August 22. On August 21, a gunman opened fire on the train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring two people before being tackled by several passengers. Stone, an off-duty member of the U.S. Air Force, was first to the gunman, who slashed him in the neck and almost sliced off his thumb with a box utter.Spencer Stone, one of the passengers who overpowered the gunman who had an assault rifle on a high-speed train, gestures as he leaves the hospital of Lesquin, northern France, on Saturday, August 22. On August 21, a gunman opened fire on the train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring two people before being tackled by several passengers. Stone, an off-duty member of the U.S. Air Force, was first to the gunman, who slashed him in the neck and almost sliced off his thumb with a box utter.From left:  Anthony Sadler, from Pittsburg, California, Alek Skarlatos from Roseburg, Oregon, and British national Chris Norman -- who is living in France -- hold medals they received for stopping a gunman on a European train.Americans Alek Skarlatos (from left), Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler helped tackle a gunman aboard a high-speed train.An undated photo released by a social network shows the 25-year-old Moroccan suspect in Fridays shooting, named as Ayoub El Khazzani. He lived in (southern) Spain in Algeciras for a year, until 2014, then he decided to move to France. Once in France he went to Syria, then returned to France, according to a Spanish anti-terror source. The high-speed train was zipping from Amsterdam to Paris when a shirtless man emerged from the bathroom -- a rifle slung over his shoulder, witnesses said. A French passenger and three Americans -- a civilian, an Air Force member and a National Guard member -- jumped into action. They quickly tackled him, possibly averting a massacre aboard the train. This frame grab image shows the bound suspect.Police work on a platform next to a high-speed train in Arras, France, on Friday, August 21.Police work on a platform next to a high-speed train in Arras, France, on Friday, August 21.Police inspect the crime scene inside the train.  Police in protective suits stand on a platform next to the train. Crime investigators look into the window of the train. 01 france train attack heroesfrance train attack heroesAmericans train attackfrance train attack suspectAmsterdam - France train attack video still TEASE01 france train shooting 082103 france train shooting 082104 france train shooting 082105 france train shooting 0821

Molins said El Khazzani has invoked his right to remain silent after days of “evasive answers.”

    Before he assembled his weapon in the toilet compartment between two train cars on Friday, El Khazzani sat on the train — bound for Paris from Amsterdam — listening on his phone to a YouTube file of “an individual calling his followers to combat and urging them to take up arms in the name of the Prophet,” Molins said, saying this was an indication of his terrorist intent.

    After bursting out of the bathroom with his assault rifle, El Khazzani was met by a French man who was waiting there and who tried to stop him. El Khazzani fired off several rounds, and the man escaped through the doors into the next car, the prosecutor said.

     From left: Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and US ambassador to France Jane Hartley pose after a press conference at the US embassy in Paris on August 23, 2015.

    El Khazzani then went into one of the cars, where two American servicemen jumped on him when his weapon jammed and — with the help of another American and a British man — managed to bring him down and tie him up, Molins explained.

    Did suspect have support?

    As the investigation into the thwarted attack and the suspect continues, authorities are looking into a key question: Was the suspected gunman a lone wolf or did he have support?

    Molins said on Tuesday that authorities are trying to pinpoint where the alleged gunman got the weapons he had and how he got the money to buy a first-class train ticket.

    “We will try and determine where he got these weapons, where he has been in Europe, anybody who has worked with him and his source of financing,” Molins said.

    According to the French prosecutor, El Khazzani has maintained that he found the weapons in a park. He told investigators during interrogations that he intended to rob train passengers and then escape through a window.

    Authorities said El Khazzani was recently in Hatay Province in southeastern Turkey, close to the Syrian border. On June 4, he traveled back through Istanbul to Albania — a side destination that he may have used to cover his tracks.

    El Khazzani’s defense attorney, Sophie David, told CNN affiliate BFMTV and other media organizations that her client denies he is a terrorist.

    “The suggestion makes him almost laugh,” she said.

    El Khazzani wanted to carry out an armed robbery, she said, and did not intend to spark a terror alert.

    ‘I’m not going to be the guy who dies sitting down’

    The four passengers who stopped the gunman were awarded the French Legion of Honor on Monday by French President Francois Hollande.

    One of them, Briton Chris Norman, told CNN on Tuesday that he preferred to die trying to stop the man, rather than sitting and waiting for a near-certain death.

    “My position was, I’m not going to be the guy who dies sitting down,” Chris Norman told CNN’s “New Day.” “If you’re going to die, try to do something about it.”

    A fifth man, French-American Mark Moogalian, who tried to take away the gunman’s rifle before the other four got involved, will receive his own Legion of Honor later. Moogalian was wounded by a shot presumably fired by the gunman, and his condition worsened overnight at a hospital in Lille, in northwestern France, his family said.

    Norman said that he and Hollande had a conversation at the award ceremony in which they discussed the importance of everyone participating in the fight against terrorism.

    Police cannot be everywhere, Norman said.

    ‘The power of the citizens’

    “I think as citizens, we need to really move forward and we need to take some of the responsibility for it,” he said, referring to the battle against terrorism. “Whether it is simply being more vigilant or by preparing yourself for action if ever you do find yourself in that situation.

    “I’m not an expert in the area but I do think we need to figure out how to harness the power of the citizens,” he said.

    Norman told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he and the others who subdued the apparent would-be attacker, though they had never met, acted as a team during the take-down.

    He has had a chance since Sunday to talk with the others — Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, three American friends on vacation in Europe — about those critical events.

    “I think we’ve got a pretty strong bond,” he said.

    Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/25/europe/france-train-attack/


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Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/26/arts/international/highlights-of-the-performance-season.html


By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone’s military unit is nominating him for the prestigious Airman’s Medal in honor of his actions to subdue a heavily armed gunman on the Amsterdam-to-Paris train last Friday, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told reporters.

And Stone — whose nickname from his training days has been “Captain America” — could eventually be eligible for the Purple Heart, if French authorities conclude the attack was a terrorist event, according to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh.

Stone, U.S. Army Spec. Alek Skarlatos, their friend Anthony Sadler and British businessman Chris Norman, all jumped on the gunman as he moved through the train with an assault rifle strapped to his chest. The four received France’s highest award, the Legion d’Honneur, on Monday.

“Had it not been for this heroic quartet, I’m quite sure that today we would be sitting here discussing a bloodbath instead of what, in fact, we are going to discuss,” James said during a Pentagon press conference announcing the unit’s award nomination. “Airman Stone and his friends personified service before self: no question about it. Their fearlessness, courage, and selflessness should inspire all of us, and thanks to them, no one died on that high-speed European train on Friday.”

The Airman’s Medal is the service’s highest non-combat award, and is ranked above the Purple Heart. The medal is awarded to service members who commit a heroic act, “usually at the voluntary risk of his or her life but not involving actual combat,” according to the Air Force description of the award.

James said she spoke to Stone and his mother, and was told that he is doing well, but needs some rest after the events of the last several days.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Article source: http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2015/08/24/airman-on-paris-bound-train-could-get-air-force-medal


But he rejected calls for airport-style security, which he said would be unworkable because of the high numbers of train passengers – five million a day in France. “If we installed scanners in front of all trains, it would be 20 times more than what there now is at airports,” he said, adding that it was up to the authorities to step up security, not the rail company.

An emergency hotline for passengers to call for help if they spot anything worrying aboard a train will come into service in September.

Mr Pepy defended train staff against accusations that they failed to respond adequately to the emergency.

17.28

Who is Ayoub El-Khazzani?

15.49

This is the sequence of events on Friday afternoon and evening, written by Harriet Alexander.

15.17: Thalys train 9364 leaves Amsterdam.

17.13: Ayoub El-Khazzani, 25, boards the train in Brussels at the Gare du Midi. There are now 554 people on board.

17.50: Train crosses into France, and near the town of Oignies, El-Khazzani goes into the lavatories in carriage 12 to prepare his attack. A 28-year-old French banker, Damien A, finds El-Khazzani with a Kalashnikov over his shoulder, and wrestles with him.

El-Khazzani bursts into the carriage.

Alek Skarlatos, a 22-year-old member of the National Guard in Oregon, who recently returned from service in Afghanistan, throws himself at El-Khazzani.

His friend, Spencer Stone, runs down the carriage to help. A third American, Anthony Sadler, helps his two friends push El-Khazzani to the ground.

French-American Mark Moogalian, 51, assists but is shot in the neck.

A Briton, Chris Norman, 62, helps the other four to wrestle El-Khazzani.

French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade is lightly wounded when he breaks the glass to sound the alarm.

18.00: Train makes emergency stop in Arras, 115 miles north of Paris. El Khazzani taken into custody.

18.35: Train was due to arrive in Paris.

14.33

Is tighter train security compatible with Schengen?

Yesterday Charles Michel, the Belgian PM and one of Europe’s most passionate defenders of free movement, said that the Schengen rules that allow free movement within continent Europe must be revised to allow greater checks on passengers’ identity and baggage, writes Matthew Holehouse in Brussels.

Matthew HolehouseMatthew Holehouse Schengen was established 30 years ago, and its terms enshrined in EU law under the Treaty of Amsterdam. It enshrines the right of anyone, regardless of nationality, to cross Schengen’s internal borders without checks.

It is “non-negotiable”, a European Commission spokesman says. “It is one of the greatest achievements of the EU, and freedom of movement is a fundamental right”.

However, in practice it is likely to be more flexible than the aspirations suggest.

In October, EU transport ministers will meet to discuss enhancing rail security. A working group to examine security on high-speed trains was set up in 2012 but it has not produced concrete results.

Sources said that routine X-ray baggage checks at stations would likely be permissible, as this is a security measure.

Under the Schengen rule book, police or border authorities would be allowed to conduct greater identity card and passport checks as well.

However, these cannot have “an effect equivalent to border checks”.

In practice, sources say, this means that the police could ask to inspect passengers’ identity papers if this is done in a “targeted” way to protect security in response to specific information of a threat.

However, the permanent and routine introduction of identity paper checks for those boarding the Paris to Berlin express is unlikely to be permitted.

Quote There cannot be checks around border areas of each and every train, every time. That would be clearly out-ruled,” a spokesman says.

In a rare case, countries can suspend Schengen for up to thirty days and introduce border controls in the face of a “serious threat”.

A contradiction exists in that ID papers are already inspected for every passenger travelling within Schengen by air.

The Commission spokesman struggled to explain why high-speed trains should be treated differently to planes, saying it was a question of “proportionality for each mode of transport.”

“Air is not rail and rail is not air,” he said.

Air travel was never properly addressed in the original Schengen agreement. Reading between the lines, the texts show how the architects struggled to work out how you could separate EU and non-EU travellers on planes, as well as defend security.

A summary of the Schengen border rule book is here.

And the original Schengen agreement between France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, and the subsequent revisions, is here.

13.47

Concerns over ease of gunman boarding train

Seaches will be stepped up on French trains, the head of French Rail said on Monday, as concern grows about the apparent ease with which the gunman boarded the train, writes David Chazan in Paris.

But Guillaume Pepy said it was the role of the authorities to decide on heightened security, not the SNCF, the national rail company. He said new measures should be taken “at the European level”.

President François Hollande promised “to take the necessary action” but did not give details.

Mr Pepy said: “There will be more baggage searches. I can’t tell you exactly where or when they will be carried out but the operational plan is secret.”

Frenchman praised for being first to tackle gunman on Amsterdam-Paris train wishes to remain anonymous (From left) Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone, US ambassador to France Jane Hartley and Alek Skarlatos after a press conference at the US embassy in Paris   Photo: THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images

12.18

French investigators believe the gunman, 25-year-old Ayoub El-Khazzani, probably visited Syria earlier this year, where he may have received weapons training and the plan for the attempted attack may have been hatched, writes David Chazan in Paris.

He is known to have taken a flight from Berlin to Istanbul on May 10. He disappeared from the radar after arriving in Turkey but investigators believe he crossed the border to Syria.

Quote There is no confirmation that he definitely went to Syria,” a source close to the investigation said. “However, it seems unlikely that he was just taking a holiday. Going via Turkey is the normal route for jihadists.”

El-Khazzani, a Moroccan, is being questioned by counter-terrorism officers in Levallois-Perret, in the Paris area. Under French law, he may be kept in custody until Tuesday, when he may be charged.

11.36

‘Heroes are example of human courage’

Matthew HolehouseMatthew Holehouse European Commission spokesman praises the Thalys train passengers as a “sterling example of human courage and sacrifice.”

A veteran member of the Brussels press corps notes the Americans saved the day. Can Europe not do it alone? There are gasps and muttering from the Francophone quarter of the Berlaymont briefing room.

There were other passengers apart from the Americans, but they prefer a “lower profile,” the spokesman said “It was a trans-Atlantic operation.”

11.02

The gunman, Ayoub , is sticking to his version that he intended to rob the passengers and investigators are being forced to use a translator to question him as he is insisting that he does not speak French or English, a source close to the investigation told the Telegraph’s David Chazan in Paris.

Quote He’s denying any terrorist or jihadist motive and says he was homeless and found the weapons abandoned in a suitcase in a Brussels park. He’s playing with our nerves. He’s as stubborn as a mule. He says he wanted to rob the passengers, not kill them. He claims he planned to shoot out a window in the train and then flee.”

But French investigators are “pretty certain” that his motive was terrorism and are liaising with their Belgian counterparts, who believe El-Khazzani was not a lone wolf but was acting under orders from a terrorist organisation.

He is being questioned by counter-terrorism officers in Levallois-Perret, just outside Paris. He will remain in custody until Tuesday evening, when he may be charged.

10.39

Chris Norman has spoken of his surprise: “If you had told me before that I would one day be awarded the Legion d’Honneur, I wouldn’t have believed it.

“I did what I could, what I had to do, but it’s the others you should be thanking, especially Spence and Alek.”

10.35

Jan Jambon, the Belgian interior minister, says the Thalys suspect was known to Belgian intelligence and they had an eye on him, but he was not “shadowed around the clock”, citing the pressures of dealing with hundreds of targets.

10.14

Belgium thinks that El-Khazzani was not a lone wolf, and are investigating whether the attack was commissioned, Le Soir reports. In particular, they believe he needed help acquiring weapons, reports Matthew Holehouse in Belgium.

Matthew HolehouseMatthew Holehouse They are also investigating whether there is a link to threats to Belgium last week.

That is quite interesting. We picked this up on Saturday. Last week, a Belgian jihadist in Syria issued a direct threat to his home country. Abdellah Noumane, a man in his twenties from Antwerp who has spent two years in Syria, named “libraries, schools, hospitals, shopping centres and even nightclubs” as possible targets.

“We no longer care about all the discussions regarding innocent victims. All infidels will be killed,” said Noumane in an audio recording shares on WhatsApp.

There have been some 350 Belgians travel to Syria, making it the greatest producer of foreign fighters per capita of any European country.

09.50

‘US serviceman saved my husband’s life’

The wife of Mark Moogalian, the French-American professor who wrestled the gun from the attacker and was wounded, has given her account of what happened on the train. Mr Moogalian’s wife, Isabelle, was with him in the train and spoke to BFM TV by telephone.

Quote My husband told me he saw a man who he thought appeared strange because he went into the toilet with his bag and stayed there for a very long time… Then the man came out and he saw that the man was carrying a weapon and another person was tackling him from behind. He told me, ‘Go, this is serious.’ I just moved a few seats away and my husband rushed at the man to take his weapon, a Kalashnikov. Then he collapsed and I saw him through the gaps between the seats. He looked at me and said, ‘I’m hit, I’m hit.‘ He thought he was going to die.

There was blood everywhere. I rushed to him and I saw he was hit in the back. I made a sort of tourniquet with a scarf and then I saw that he had another wound on the neck. I ran into carriage number 11 to ask for help. I asked if there was a doctor and I said, ‘He’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead’. No one came so I went back to carriage number 12 while the American soldiers were pinning the attacker down…

Spencer Stone knew how to give first aid. He put his finger on the wound in the middle of his neck and he stayed in that position for the whole journey until we got to Arras so I think he really saved my husband’s life. I didn’t have time to think and I thought at first that we were all going to die. That’s what I was thinking, that we were all going to be shot.”

French President Francois Hollande awarded France's highest honour, the Legion d'honneur, to three U.S. citizens and a Briton who helped disarm a machine gun-toting attacker on a Thalys train last week. French President Francois Hollande (C) poses with (LtoR) British businessman Chris Norman and off-duty US servicemen Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone, and Alek Skarlatos during a reception in their honor at the Elysee Palace in Paris  Photo: MICHEL EULER/AFP/Getty Images

09.39

More from Matthew Holehouse:

Belgium says an extra 54 cops were on patrol at international train stations yesterday. At Gare du Midi however there were if anything fewer cops than normal when I was there, and other papers are noting no extra security on trains. Plans to directly connect train CCTV networks to the federal police will be sped up.

Jacqueline Galant, the minister for transport, says random checks will be introduced at stations but security will not be as strict as airports.

French President Francois Hollande awarded France's highest honour, the Legion d'honneur, to three U.S. citizens and a Briton who helped disarm a machine gun-toting attacker on a Thalys train last week. Francois Hollande awards Alek Skarlatos with the Legion d’Honneur (the Legion of Honour) medal  Photo: REUTERS/Michel Euler

09.25

The editor of Elle Belgique, the women’s magazine, faces accusations of racism after tweeting that she felt “paranoid” about “tanned guys with bags”, Matthew Holehouse in Brussels.

Matthew HolehouseMatthew Holehouse Beatrice Ercolini wrote: “Get on the Thalys and resist the urge to stare at all the tanned guys with bags (there are plenty) #paranoia.”

Twitter users pointed out that among the “tanned” people on the Thalys train was a black American who tackled the gunman.

She said she was “misunderstood” and her comments were taken out of “context” by “trolls”. She merely wanted to foster diversity, she said.

She told Le Soir: “I wanted to share the sentiment into which we must not fall.”

Quote On the 8.17 train, all eyes were on a large brown [man] rummaging in his bag. I was struck by the tense atmosphere that prevailed. My reflex was in fact not to fall into the trap, as suggested in the tweet, and look out of the window. My tweet was certainly not intended to stigmatize a community. Quite the contrary!”

She has deleted the message after contact with her bosses.

08.53

Hollande: Your heroism is an example and inspiration

French President Francois Hollande awarded France's highest honour, the Legion d'honneur, to three U.S. citizens and a Briton who helped disarm a machine gun-toting attacker on a Thalys train last week. Francois Hollande (R) awards U.S. student Anthony Sadler with the Legion d’Honneur (the Legion of Honour) medal   Photo: REUTERS/Michel Euler

President Francois Hollande has awarded the Legion d’Honneur to the four heroes, Americans Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, and Briton Chris Norman. He pinned their medals to their chests and embraced them on both cheeks, as is customary, writes David Chazan in Paris.

Quote Your heroism should be an example and a source of inspiration for everyone,” Mr Hollande. “You behaved like soldiers but also as men, responsible men.”

French President Francois Hollande is the Americans with the prestigious Legion of Honor. The three American travelers say they relied on gut instinct and a close bond forged over years of friendship as they took down a heavily armed man on a passenger train speeding through Belgium.(From the left) Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone, U.S. Ambassador to France Jane D. Hartley and Alek Skarlatos arrive at the Elysee Palace in Paris  Photo: AP Photo/Michel Euler

He also spoke of Mark Moogalian, the American-born French national who is still in hospital with gunshot wounds. He described the academic as “French, and American, and an English teacher,” saying he will award him the Legion d’Honneur separately as soon as possible.

Mr Stone’s left arm is still in a sling. The attacker cut his hand very badly with a box cutter, almost severing his thumb.

The ceremony is now over.

08.39

Francois Hollande thanks heroes

Mr Hollande has thanked the four for their bravery, and also paid homage to the 28-year-old French banker who the first to tackle the gunman but “does not want his name to be made public,” a reaction Mr Hollande said he understood, writes David Chazan in Paris.

French President Francois Hollande (L) welcomes Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to a reception at the Elysee Palace in Paris, in honor of the three young Americans and a British man with the country's top Legion d'Honneur medal in recognition of their bravery after they overpowered the train attacker. French President Francois Hollande (centre) awards three young Americans and a British man the Legion d’Honneur medal in recognition of their bravery

Quote You averted what could have been a true carnage. Your heroism should be an example and a source of inspiration for everyone. You behaved like soldiers but also as rmen, responsible men.”

He also spoke of Mark Moogalian, the American-born French national who is still in hospital with gunshot wounds, although he did not name him, saying he will award him the Legion d’Honneur separately as soon as possible.

He also thanked train staff and the emergency services for their role in responding to the emergency.

“A terrorist decided to commit an attack. He had enough weapons and ammunition to carry out a real carnage, and that’s what he would have done if you hadn’t tackled him at a risk to your own lives,” Mr Hollande said.

Mr Hollande’s short speech is over and he has now awarded the Legion d’Honneur to all four, kissing them on both cheeks, which is customary at such ceremonies in France, after pinning the medals on their chests.

08.29

Many French people are anxious this morning about the apparent ease with which the gunman boarded the train, amid continuing controversy over the actions of staff on board, writes David Chazan.

The head of French Rail promised to improve security, with more spot checks of passengers and baggage, after a French film star lambasted train staff over their response to the emergency.

Guillaume Pepy, the head of the SNCF, the national rail company, insisted that airport-style security would be unworkable as there were too many train users to check all baggage and passengers boarding trains. An emergency hotline will start operating from September 1, he said.

Passengers in France will be able to call 3117 to speak to specially trained staff who will assess the situation and trigger emergency action if needed. About 40 French Rail staff will be assigned to answering calls.

Mr Pepy said the hotline “will allow people to notify anything abnormal or worrying, in a station or in a train.” He added: “It is an important measure.”

The French actor, Jean-Hugues Anglade, best known for his role in the 1986 film Betty Blue, said staff “completely ignored our pleas for help”. Mr Anglade, who was travelling with his wife and children, cut his hand when he smashed the glass to pull the emergency cord.

He said some train employees fled and locked themselves away, and failed to open the door when passengers shouted for help and banged on it.

But Mr Pepy, who held a “private” meeting with the star on Sunday, defended their actions.

“No one has mentioned the Thalys (train) driver who had the excellent reflex to ask to be diverted from the high-speed track where trains cannot stop,” he said. “He succeeded in getting (the train) diverted to Arras (in northern France) where emergency services could aid people and the police could arrest the terrorist.”

However, Mr Anglade renewed his accusations: “We were surprised by the very sudden flight of the train staff… without even warning us to take cover by lying down under the seats.”

08.23

Americans arrive at Elysee Palace

The three Americans have just arrived at the Elysee Palace with the American ambassador, Jane Hartley, reports David Chazan.

The mothers of two of the Americans, Spencer Stome and Alek Skarlatos, have flown to Paris and are also at the ceremony.

Briton Chris Norman is also there and the heroes are taking their places on a podium for the ceremony.

French President Francois Hollande (L) welcomes Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to a reception at the Elysee Palace in Paris, in honor of the three young Americans and a British man with the country's top Legion d'Honneur medal in recognition of their bravery after they overpowered the train attacker. French President Francois Hollande (L) welcomes Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to a reception at the Elysee Palace in Paris  Photo: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images

08.20

The four heroes who tackled the gunman are expected within minutes at the Elysee Palace, where President François Hollande will award them France’s highest civilian honour, the Legion d’Honneur, David Chazan in Paris writes.

The French prime minister, Manuel Valls and the Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, are already present and the American ambassador, Jane Hartley, is to arrive shortly.

07.43

What’s happening today?

Hello and welcome to the Telegraph’s live coverage of the aftermath of the terror attack in France on Friday evening.

Today, Francois Hollande, the French president, will award three Americans and one Briton with the country’s top Legion d’Honneur medal, France’s highest civilian honour.

The men were hailed as heroes after overpowering a gunman on a train carrying an AK-47 among many other weapons.

Mr Hollande will thank the heroes who stopped 25-year-old Ayoub El-Khazzani, who was on the train armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Luger automatic pistol, ammunition and a box-cutter when he began his attack.

During a ceremony today, Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister, and Jane Hartley, the US ambassador to Paris, will attend.

What happened this weekend?

Fortunately during this terror attack, no one was killed but that was thanks to the quick reaction and bravery of a French man the Telegraph exclusively named last night as Mark Moogalian.

Together with Mr Moogalian, three US servicemen and a Briton brought the gunman to a halt.

El-Khazzani is currently still being questioned – investigators have until tomorrow – after he boarded a high-speed train in Brussels that was going to Paris with weapons. He opened fire and injured a man before he was subdued.

Who are the heroes?

Last night the Telegraph named Mark Magoolian, a 51-year-old professor at the Sorbonne, as the first man to wrestle a weapon from the gunman.

Mark Moogalian (c) being stretchered from the trainMark Moogalian (c) being stretchered from the train  Photo: REUTERS

His actions together with those of Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler as well as Chris Norman helped to save many lives.

Mr Magoolian tackled the Kalashnikov assault rifle off the gunman, who then drew a sidearm and shot him in the neck before taking back the rifle, his sister revealed.

Article source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11819824/France-train-attack-Mark-Moogalian-named-as-French-hero-who-foiled-attack-by-Moroccan-terrorist-Ayoub-El-Khazzani-live.html


When British IT consultant Chris Norman boarded a train at Amsterdam airport on his way back to France last Friday, he didn’t expect to find himself, just over an hour later, splattered with blood and pinning down a gunman as he tried to fasten a cable tie around the man’s hands with his teeth.

After president François Hollande on Monday awarded Norman France’s highest distinction, the Légion d’honneur, for helping to avert a massacre on the high-speed Amsterdam-to-Paris train, the 62-year-old grandfather of three said that the events were still sinking in.

“The journey was going fine, passengers were beginning to sleep a bit, there wasn’t much noise in the carriage and I was working on my computer trying to get the Wi-Fi to connect,” said Norman, who has lived in France for 25 years.

“The first thing I heard was what I assumed was a gunshot,” he said. Born in Uganda, he grew up in various countries across Africa and had taken part in target practice at school.

“I heard some glass breaking and as the shot went off, there was a guy who rushed through the carriage towards the front of the train. I stood up, and saw the gunman holding what looked like an AK-47, certainly a submachine gun. At that stage, I sat back down in my seat. Frankly, I was dead scared. And I thought, what do I do now?”

Norman, who travels widely for work, said he had often mused about what he’d do “if this type of thing happened”. But he’d never thought about it happening on a train.

“I said to myself, ‘Well, don’t be the guy that just sits there and gets shot’. So I was trying to work out what to do. [The gunman] was at the end of the carriage. I was hiding behind a seat and I was hoping that by doing that he wouldn’t be able to hit me immediately,” he said.

Norman noticed three young American friends leap up. “I heard one of the Americans say ‘Go get him Spence!’, the other one said ‘No you don’t do that, buddy’. I thought great, somebody’s actually intervening, let me stand up because we’ve got much more chance as a team. Let’s go!”

Two of the Americans were off-duty soldiers on holiday in Europe. One, Spencer Stone, held the gunman, 25-year-old Moroccan, Ayoub El-Khazzani, in a choke-hold, while the other, Alek Skarlatos, first took away the Kalashnikov, then a pistol that the gunman had pulled on him.

“I just pounced on the gunman’s arm so that he couldn’t actually use it, and I held his arm to the ground,” Norman said. “We all held him until he stopped struggling.”

The Americans beat the gunman until he lost consciousness. “Alek had held the pistol to his head and said ‘Stop, stop,’ and that had no effect – he carried on struggling,” Norman said.

When the gunman began to lose consciousness, Skarlatos told Norman to hold down the man while he went to look for any other gunmen and Stone tended to a man who had been shot. An off-duty French train driver travelling in the carriage held down the gunman’s other arm.

Norman wanted to make sure the gunman remained immobile. “First, I held his hands behind his back. Then somebody came along with cable ties which we tried to put on him … My hands were covered with sweat so I pulled the cable ties with my teeth. They didn’t work, so a passenger gave me his tie.”

Norman used the tie to restrain the gunman’s hands, then he and the off-duty train driver tied his feet together with another passenger’s scarf.

“I was dead scared that there might be [another gunman] on the train,” he said. “And I was just trying to make certain that this guy was not going to get up again and didn’t have any opportunity to be a threat.”

He said of the gunman: “He was slight, he didn’t appear to me to be very strong … But I was also concerned that he was on drugs of some sort and who knows what kind of strength that can give? So I was being very cautious.”

When the train made an emergency stop at Arras station in northern France, police boarded the train to arrest the gunman.

Norman said he was “incredibly honoured” to receive the Légion d’honneur, but he felt the Americans had done most of the work.

He said: “My message to people is that if it does happen to you, be aware that there is a possibility to act. Don’t act completely rashly but, when the opportunity arises, for god’s sake jump in there.”

He added: “The thing that stands out is that you can’t wait. If you make a decision, if you see something like that and there is an opportunity, then act.”

“I think the traditional advice that we’ve all grown up with over the last 30 or 40 years is don’t intervene, don’t do those kinds of things. Because I think the ways terrorists once operated was very different. They weren’t killing people to start off with. Whereas here they come in and they’re going to kill you, so you have to think about it differently.”

Asked what he had learned about himself, Norman said: “I always wondered how I would react. Now I know and I don’t want to do it again. It was quite an amazing experience, I don’t want to relive it.”

Article source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/24/chris-norman-describes-how-helped-overpower-french-train-gunman


Photos by Tom van Oossanen

Sail Amsterdam 2015 concluded yesterday as five days of celebrating Tall Ships, sailing heritage and the history of the maritime industry came to an end on Amsterdam’s waterways. The event, which takes place once every five years, was attended by nearly 2.3 million people. The event was closely monitored by various port authorities and on-water control, ensuring the smooth flow of the thousands of vessels on the water.

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Arie Jan de Waard, Chairman SAIL Amsterdam Foundation (SSA) commented, “SAIL Amsterdam 2015 was not only a memorable experience for visitors, but also for all the crew members of the ships. The collaboration between the Municipality of Amsterdam, the North Sea Municipalities, the Port of Amsterdam, all operational and security forces as well as our own organization, went very smoothly. And I thank everyone who contributed to this successful SAIL. “ The next edition of Sail Amsterdam will take place in August 2020.

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Article source: http://www.superyachttimes.com/editorial/9/article/id/14927