Either Ayoub El-Khazzani is a terrorist or one of the unluckiest and most misunderstood men in the world. El-Khazzani is accused of wounding passengers on a French train in a foiled terrorist attack. He was in possession of an AK-47 assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. His former lawyer, however, says that he is “dumbfounded” by the allegations and that he simply found the AK-47 assault rifle “by chance.” If the lawyer’s account is accurate, his defense appears that he was planning to hold up the train and then flee. He is simply a misunderstood wannabe bank robber.
The problem is that El-Khazzani has been on a watch list for terrorism and is believed to have visited Syria and has associated with terrorism suspects.
Sophie David, however, insists that it is a huge misunderstanding and that he found the weapon and a telephone near the Brussels station in an area frequented by homeless people like himself. She added that “When I told him about the media attention he didn’t understand,” she added.
The 26-year-old was linked to Isis and radical Islam on the Schengen register, a watch-list of “persons of interest” among 27 European countries. He was subdued after a violent struggle with US Airman Spencer Stone and National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, their friend Anthony Sadler, and British businessman Chris Norman. They say that he tried to cock the weapon before he was tackled. An unidentified dual French-American citizen was also hospitalised with a bullet wound.
That is a tough fact pattern to turn into a colossal misunderstanding defense, particularly when you are trying to show that your client is not an AK-47 wielding terrorist but an AK-47 wielding bank robber. Jurors may not be inclined to sweat the difference.