The Moroccan jihadist accused of attacking a high-speed train in France before he was overpowered by US servicemen has said he was targeting Americans, a source close to the investigation has told AFP.
Ayoub El Khazzani’s lawyer said he had a “precise, well-defined target”, the source said.
The lawyer, Sarah Mauger-Poliak, is said to have told investigators: “It was no accident that he boarded the first-class part of the train.”
However, the lawyer said her client had told investigators he had not intended to “carry out a massacre and kill just anyone” on the Amsterdam to Paris train in August 2015.
The account differs from earlier versions of the story that the gunman has told investigators. He initially said he had only wanted to carry out a robbery, using a Kalashnikov rifle he claimed he found in a park where he was sleeping rough.
Khazzani shot and seriously injured a passenger before he was overpowered by two off-duty US servicemen and their friend.
Investigators believe their actions almost certainly prevented carnage in the train.
In questioning, the gunman described his route from Syria through Turkey and into Europe, travelling with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who a few months later would play a leading role in the Paris attacks in which 130 people were killed.
Hungarian authorities say they have records of the pair entering Hungary on August 1 before heading for Austria as they moved through Europe.
El Khazzani, who is in custody in France, is due to be questioned again on December 20.
Meet the mysterious conservative lawyer who keeps turning up in the Russia probes
A prominent conservative lawyer keeps showing up in dramas central to the Trump administration and its battles with Congress—and it turns out he has intimate knowledge of Felix Sater’s intelligence work for the U.S. government while he was working with Trump.
The Moscow-born Sater is the financial criminal and violent felon who worked closely with Trump for years while simultaneously serving as a long-term informant for the FBI and other national security agencies.
In 2015 and into mid-2016, Sater pushed for the development of a Trump Tower in Moscow with his old friend Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime fixer, while trying to enlist support from the Russian government for Trump’s campaign.
House Democrats have a new list of ‘star witnesses’ who are beyond Trump’s reach: report
According to a report from Politico, House leaders have developed a new plan to get what are called "star witnesses" to appear in public hearings who are outside of Donald Trump's ability to block them from speaking by asserting executive privilege.
With former Oval Office employees avoiding or ignoring subpoenas as the White House runs interference for them, investigators are eyeing people who were close to Donald Trump's 2016 campaign -- but were not government employees.
The race to win the US Democratic primary: Where does it stand?
A record 23 Democrats of diverse genders, races and political backgrounds are lining up to try to stop Republican US President Donald Trump from winning a second term in the 2020 elections.
Though much will change in the more than 500 days to go before polls open, a nationwide Fox News poll released this week showed former vice president Joe Biden leading the pack.
Here are five questions and answers as the campaign season in the United States begins:
- How will it play out? -
While the field will certainly shrink once the first votes of primary season are cast in Iowa in February, some candidates may call it quits after debates begin later this month.