Ayoub El-Khazzani is the man accused of bringing an AK-47 rifle onto a high speed train in Europe and injuring multiple people before being subdued by three Americans. Thankfully someone discovered him in the bathroom with his firearm before he could begin his massacre, but the fact that he never actually started his attack on the train is leading to an interesting situation: El-Khazzani now claims that he never intended to hurt anyone and never fired a single shot. As Robert is wont to say, pull the other one, it’s got bells on . . .
From The Independent:
Speaking to BFM-TV, David said: “He is dumbfounded that his act is being linked to terrorism,” adding that El-Khazzani describes himself as a homeless man.
“He says that by chance he found a suitcase with a weapon, with a telephone, hidden away,” she said.
Security at Brussels Midi station was stepped up after the incident (EPA) “He said he found it in the park which is just next to the Midi Station in Brussels, where he often sleeps with other homeless people.”
Explaining what El-Khazzani claims he planned to do with the rifle, David said: “He planned to hold up the train, then shoot out a window and jump out to escape.”
“When I told him about the media attention he didn’t understand,” she added.
The 26-year-old gunman is belived [sic] to have links to Isis and radical Islam, and was on the Schengen register, a watch-list of “persons of interest” that is shared by 27 European countries.
The probability that this man “found” an AK-47 in a suitcase in a park is about as likely as my finding a bale of marijuana in my parking lot. Then again, this is south Texas, so those things do tend to show up every once in a while. The issue with “finding” an AK lying around in the gun control paradise of Belgium is that (A) such guns are forbidden from private ownership and (B) all firearms in the country are registered. So either this is another illegally imported rifle from the Middle East that someone carelessly left lying around, or the guy is telling porkie pies.
Another inconsistency with the man’s story is the fact that there were confirmed injuries. One supposedly from a gunshot wound, and another reportedly from a boxcutter the attacker used on the people trying to disarm him and protect themselves and the other passengers. So unless those wounds spontaneously appeared the “I didn’t mean it I didn’t do it!” protestations seem a little empty.
There is one part of this otherwise noggin-scratching story I want to add my two cents about, though.
El-Khazzani denies firing a shot, but Skarlatos, who has served in Afghanistan, said then when he examined the rifle, he found that the gunman had tried to fire it, but failed because it had a bad primer.
The AK-47 line of rifles uses what’s called a “free floating” firing pin. The firing pin is not retained or spring loaded, it simply rests in the bolt and is free to move around. Typically what you’ll see with these kinds of designs is that when the bolt slams closed on a live round the momentum of the firing pin causes it to continue moving forward after the bolt has stopped and lightly taps the primer.
Anyone with an AR-15 can see this same effect if they chamber a round and then immediately eject it. It’s possible that what the soldier saw was simply a light primer strike from the bolt slamming shut, which would be consistent with the suspect’s story. Or, knowing how terrible surplus ammo can be, it’s also entirely possible that it was a bad round. That’s something for police investigators to determine.