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Molenbeek house searched in Thalys attack investigation

12:13 26/08/2015

Federal police officers carried out searches in Molenbeek, Brussels, on Monday at the home of the sister of Thalys gunman Ayoub El Khazzani, as well as a man said to be her friend. 

The sister is said to be strictly religious, even fundamentalist according to reports, but is not accused of any offence. The aim of the search was to gather more information about El Khazzani’s visits to Brussels, where he boarded the train for Paris before his attempted gun attack on passengers last Friday, which was stopped after intervention by members of the public.

Police say they found evidence that El Khazzani had recently stayed at his sister’s house. No one was detained, but police seized a number of objects which they would not identify except to say they were not firearms.

The sister and her husband later presented themselves at the police station and were questioned for a number of hours, the prosecutor’s office said. No details on their statements were given.

Meanwhile, in Paris, François Molins (pictured), the French prosecutor in charge of the case, has filed charges of attempted murder in the pursuit of a terrorist attack. Since his arrest, El Khazzani has denied any terrorist connection, which is an aggravating factor in any crime and entails a longer sentence.

However, the prosecutor took into account a number of factors, his office said: El Khazzani was in possession of heavy weaponry; he had recently been in Turkey and perhaps in Syria; his excuse of having found the guns in a park in Brussels; he had been watching fundamentalist videos online just before boarding the train.


Photo © Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Written by Alan Hope