Six Detained in Brussels Raids in Connection with Attempted French Train Attack Thwarted by Americans in 2015
Three Americans, including two servicemen, thwarted the attack
In a series of raids on Monday, Belgian authorities detained six people in connection to the 2015 Thalys train attack in France which was foiled by three Americans who overpowered and subdued the armed suspect.
According to the Belgian Federal prosecutor, the six were arrested in raids ordered as part of the attack’s ongoing criminal investigation. House searches occurred in several Brussels area municipalities including Molenbeek-St. Jean, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Haren.
The searches went off without incident, according to the prosecutor’s office. No weapons or explosives were found and a judge charged with the overall investigation will decide whether to hold, charge or release the detainees, the prosecutor’s office said.
Officials did not identify names or nationalities of the detainees. Officials did not reveal what, if anything, the raids turned up.
The raids come amid a rash of anti-terror activities by Belgian authorities. Over the weekend it was disclosed that an eighth suspect – a Zaventum Airport employee – was arrested in relation to the attacks on the Brussels airport and metro station in March.
The Thalys attack last August 21st, on the high-speed Amsterdam-to-Paris rail line, caught world attention when three Americans on vacation in Europe intervened.
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US Airman Spencer Stone, Army Spc. Alex Skarlatos and their boyhood friend, Anthony Sadler, were traveling on a Friday afternoon from Amsterdam to Paris when heavily armed alleged terrorist Ayoub El Khazzani stepped into their compartment wielding a Kalashnikov rifle. Another American, Sorbonne University professor Mark Moogalian, was non-fatally shot while wrestling the gunman before Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler took down the terrorist.
A trained emergency medic, Stone is credited with having saved Moogalian’s life.
El Khazzani, who was tied down by passengers and arrested as the train passed the Belgian-French border, initially maintained he had “found” the weapons on a Brussels park bench.
French authorities have insisted the incident was an attempted terrorist attack but El Khazzani has said he wanted to commit a robbery.
Stone, Skarlatos, and Sadler Jr. along with British citizen Chris Norman were decorated with France’s Legion d’Honneur for their actions. Moogalian was hospitalized and decorated by French President Hollande in a later September ceremony.