Suspect had viewed jihad video on train

Terror probe launched as France on red alert for further attacks.

The suspect in the attack on a high-speed train in France had watched a jihad video onboard just before the incident, according to a French prosecutor.

Francois Molins said 26-year-old Moroccan suspect Ayoub El-Khazzani had used his phone to watch the YouTube video.

Mr Molins, speaking at a news conference in Paris, said the content of the video was of “Islamic preaching” and urged violent acts.

Authorities say they found the suspect’s phone in a bag left in the train.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said authorities are formally opening a judicial investigation into terror-related acts.

Mr Molins said that the decision was based on El-Khazzani’s actions on the train on Friday night and information from other European authorities about his travels and apparent links to radical Islam.

French president François Hollande says his country should be prepared for more attacks such as the thwarted assault on the high-speed train last week.

Hollande said Friday’s incident “could have degenerated into monstrous carnage without the courage of the passengers,” including three Americans and a Briton who subdued the gunman.

In a wide-ranging diplomatic speech, Hollande said his country remains “exposed” to violent extremism and “this aggression is new proof that we should prepare ourselves for other assaults”.

He didn’t elaborate on a specific threat, though France has been on high alert for attacks all year.

Hollande stressed his commitment to French counterterrorism efforts at home and abroad against so-called Islamic State extremists.

The train incident has highlighted growing difficulties in protecting public spaces from individual attackers.

Khazzani, 25, boarded the high-speed train in Brussels on Friday armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Luger automatic pistol, ammunition and a box-cutter.

He is being questioned by anti-terror investigators, though he claims he had ‘only’ been seeking to rob passengers.

Meanwhile, Belgian police carried out searches at two properties in Brussels over suspicions that the gunman might have lived there, prosecutors said.

Two searches were conducted on Monday, the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

“Both searches took place in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek (in Brussels) and were part of the search for the possible residences of the suspect.”

The gunman was tackled and tied up by a group of three American friends and a British businessman.

Another man who tried to stop him, a French-American named Mark Moogalian, remained hospitalised with a gunshot wound.

Now that the formal investigation is opened, investigating magistrates are expected to file numerous charges against El-Khazzani, including an attempted terrorism-related attack.


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