LONDON — The young man who emerged from a Thalys train bathroom on Friday with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, pistol and box cutter is believed to be Ayoub El-Khazzani, 26, of Moroccan origin, who was known to the Spanish and French security services and is reported to have traveled to Syria last year.
With the man under interrogation by French anti-terrorism authorities, who can hold him without charge for up to 96 hours, French officials cautioned that many details of his life, and even his identity, had yet to be confirmed.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that if the suspect is who he says, he is a Moroccan citizen who had lived in Spain and Belgium, and, according to Spanish officials, also lived in France and may have traveled to Syria from there. The Spanish authorities notified the French intelligence services in February 2014 that the man had joined "the radical Islamist movement," Cazeneuve said. Spanish officials also notified Belgium.
The French then marked the man down as a security threat, assigning him an "S" profile, Cazeneuve said, intended to alert the border police. The man lived in Spain in 2014 and then this year in Belgium, Cazeneuve said.
Spanish officials told the paper El Pais that the suspect moved to France in 2014 and traveled from there to Syria before returning to France, details that Cazeneuve did not mention in his statement.
Belgian authorities opened their own anti-terrorism investigation Saturday.