A British grandfather who helped subdue a gunman armed with an AK-47 on a train from Amsterdam to Paris is to be presented with France’s top honour for bravery.
IT expert Chris Norman will receive the Legion d’Honneur from French president Francois Hollande today alongside three Americans who fought suspected Morroccan jihadist Ayoub El-Khazzani, 26, on Friday.
Mr Norman, US Air Force serviceman Spencer Stone, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and Sacramento State University student Anthony Sadler, will reportedly be made chevaliers, or knights, of the Legion alongside a French citizen who first came across the gunman near a toilet on board.
(left to right) Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Chris Norman. Pic: PA
At a press conference at the US Embassy in Paris on Sunday Mr Stone said he just wanted to “survive and for my friends and everyone else on the train to make it”.
He praised French medical staff and said that the unknown French man on the 554-passenger train “started the struggle at first, I think he deserves a lot of credit”.
Mr Stone said: “I turned around and he (the gunman) appeared to have what looked like a AK-47.
“It looked like it was jammed or wasn’t working and he was trying to discharge the weapon. Alek hit me on the shoulder and said ’let’s go’.
“We ran down, tackled him and hit the ground. Alek tackled him and grabbed the gun out of his hand while I put him in a chokehold. It seemed like he kept on pulling more weapons – left and right.
“He pulled out a handgun. Alek took that. He took out a box cutter and was jabbing at me with that. We let go and all three of us started punching him while he was in the middle of us.
“I was able to grab him again and choke him unconscious while Alek was hitting him in the head with the pistol or rifle.”
Mr Norman said he helped the three Americans overpower the gunman because he thought he was “probably going to die anyway”.
Mr Skarlatos also thanked Mr Norman for helping to tie the gunman up after he had been overpowered.
French police were reportedly warned more than a year ago about El-Khazzani’s radical views.
Spanish law enforcement told their French counterparts in March 2014 that El-Khazzani had a “relationship with radical Islam”, the Spanish El Pais newspaper reported.
It also claimed the 26-year-old Moroccan, believed to have visited Syria last year, had been included on a European anti-extremism police database as far back as 2012.
Officials told the Associated Press that El-Khazzani was on the radar of authorities in France, Belgium and Spain.
The Legion d’Honneur was created under Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, and roughly one million people have received it over the years.