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4 to stand trial for IS train attack thwarted by Americans

PARIS (AP) — Four people will stand trial on French terrorism charges over an attempted Islamic extremist attack on a Paris-bound train that was thwarted by three young Americans. The real-life drama inspired a Clint Eastwood movie, and after four years of investigation the case is finally going to trial.

A judicial official said Thursday that attacker Ayoub El-Khazzani and three suspected accomplices will answer to various terrorism charges in the trial, though the date has not yet been set. Armed with a Kalashnikov rifle, pistol and box cutter, El-Khazzani, then 26, boarded an Amsterdam-Paris train carrying 500 passengers on Aug. 21, 2015, according to authorities. He opened fire and wounded two people before several passengers intervened to stop him.

He was finally subdued by three Americans: U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, and their longtime friend Anthony Sadler. The three played themselves in the 2018 Eastwood film “The 15:17 to Paris” about the attempted attack.

El Khazzani could face up to life in prison on charges of attempted murder in relation with a terrorist enterprise. The others going on trial face lesser charges. They are Bilal Chatra, Mohamed Bakkali and Redouane Sebbar, the judicial official said. The official was not authorized to be publicly named.

El Khazzani was believed to have acted on orders of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind of subsequent Islamic State attacks on Paris and Brussels. The attacks on Paris' Bataclan concert hall, cafes and the national stadium killed 130 people, France's deadliest attacks in peacetime.

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