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.
Who is Ayoub El-Khazzani?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
‘Heroes are example of human courage’
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Hollande: Your heroism is an example and inspiration
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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