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American train attack witness hospitalized in Paris

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / NOV. 16
                                French lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, who is representing US soldiers who foiled a terror attack on an Amsterdam-Paris train in 2015, speaks to media on the opening day of the Thalys attack trial, at the Paris courthouse. Islamic State operative Ayoub El Khazzani goes on trial Monday Nov. 16, in France on terror charges for appearing on a train with an arsenal of weapons and shooting one passenger in 2015.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / NOV. 16

    French lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, who is representing US soldiers who foiled a terror attack on an Amsterdam-Paris train in 2015, speaks to media on the opening day of the Thalys attack trial, at the Paris courthouse. Islamic State operative Ayoub El Khazzani goes on trial Monday Nov. 16, in France on terror charges for appearing on a train with an arsenal of weapons and shooting one passenger in 2015.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2015
                                French President Francois Hollande bids farewell to U.S. Airman Spencer Stone as U.S. National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos of Roseburg, Ore., second from left, and Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento State University in California, right, after Hollande awarded them the French Legion of Honor at the Elysee Palace in Paris. The three Sacramento-area men are lorded for their bravery in thwarting a terror attack on a French train in 2015. Islamic State operative Ayoub El Khazzani goes on trial in France on terror charges for appearing on a train with an arsenal of weapons and shooting one passenger in 2015.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2015

    French President Francois Hollande bids farewell to U.S. Airman Spencer Stone as U.S. National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos of Roseburg, Ore., second from left, and Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento State University in California, right, after Hollande awarded them the French Legion of Honor at the Elysee Palace in Paris. The three Sacramento-area men are lorded for their bravery in thwarting a terror attack on a French train in 2015. Islamic State operative Ayoub El Khazzani goes on trial in France on terror charges for appearing on a train with an arsenal of weapons and shooting one passenger in 2015.

PARIS >> An American who had been scheduled to appear as a star witness at the trial in Paris of an Islamic State operative was hospitalized today in the French capital, casting doubt on whether he would still be able to testify about his role in the dramatic capture of the gunman that averted a possible mass slaughter aboard a high-speed train.

Spencer Stone’s lawyer, Thibault de Montbrial, wouldn’t give details about what is ailing the former U.S. airman, citing medical privacy. He said Stone would not testify as planned on Thursday afternoon.

“I know that he is hospitalized. I don’t know why. I don’t know how he is,” de Montbrial said.

“The only thing I’m certain of is that he is not in a state to testify today. We are going to regroup this evening to gauge whether he can be heard tomorrow morning or afternoon.”

Stone, then a 23-year-old, was among passengers who helped subdue gunman Ayoub El Khazzani aboard the Amsterdam to Paris train in 2015.

Their heroics during the drama on Aug. 21, 2015, inspired Clint Eastwood to direct a Hollywood re-enactment: “The 15:17 to Paris.”

El Khazzani, a 31-year-old Moroccan, is on trial with three suspected accomplices. He risks life in prison if convicted of attempted terrorist murder.

El Khazzani boarded the train in Brussels armed with a Kalashnikov, nine clips with 30 rounds each, an automatic pistol and a cutter, according to investigators. Once aboard the train, El Khazzani lingered in a restroom between cars and then emerged bare-chested with his weapons.

One of the witnesses scheduled to testify on Thursday afternoon is Mark Moogalian, a French-American who wrestled the Kalashnikov off El Khazzani — before being shot himself by a pistol.

Stone has said he was coming out of a deep sleep when the gunman appeared. He and Alek Skarlatos, then a 22-year-old U.S. National Guardsman recently back from Afghanistan, snapped into action, tackling the gunman.

Skarlatos was scheduled to testify Friday.

Stone, whose hand was injured by the cutter, is also credited with saving Moogalian, whose neck was squirting blood.

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