A gunman tackled by young Americans on a train between Amsterdam and Paris pleaded with them to hand back his Kalashnikov after they overpowered him, one of the group said.
"Everything happened very fast," Anthony Sadler, a student travelling with friends Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone, both members of the US military, told France's BFMTV.
"I didn't realise what was happening until I saw a guard run past. I looked back and saw a guy enter with a Kalashnikov. My friends and I got down and then I said 'Let's get him'," said Skarlatos, a 22-year-old member of the National Guard in Oregon, who has recently returned from service in Afghanistan.
The American stabbed by the would-be mass murderer is expected to recover.
One, Skarlatos, is identified as a National Guard member without specifying whether he is Air or Army Guard. At least one man--the one stabbed--is a soldier, according to the US military. So that must be Spencer. The third American, Sadler, is a student.
Earlier reports credited the Marines. I don't know if that is the result of many decades of very good publicity for that service that led onlookers to assume that a charging frontal assault must mean Marines!
An American passenger was also shot.
The men received medals from the French in gratitude.
It may seem odd that the attacker pleaded for the return of his weapon, but after the Iran nuclear deal the attacker probably figured there's no harm asking.
So far French authorities are not speculating on the motivation of the 26-year old man of Moroccan origin.
UPDATE: Things are still unclear. Apparently, the man wounded is Air Force. Which conflicts with earlier reports. And there were Marines on the train who helped. Perhaps to help subdue the attacker after the other American responded?
Early details are dodgy. Which is why I didn't blog it last night, figuring by the morning it would be sorted out. But not yet.
But the big picture is there: American military personnel prevented a bloodbath.
UPDATE: The captured man is a known threat:
"If the identity he has declared is confirmed, he is a 26-year-old man of Moroccan nationality identified by the Spanish authorities to French intelligence services in February 2014 because of his connections to the radical Islamist movement."
He is believed to have visited Syria. For the waters, I'm sure.
The questioning should be informative.
And followed by French air strikes, I'm reasonably sure.
UPDATE: Sadly for French pilots, we got the number 2 ISIL SOB:
The second-in-command of the Islamic State jihadist group has been killed in a US air strike in northern Iraq, the White House said.
But the French shouldn't worry just because we got Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali. We left a bigger SOB for them:
Kayla Mueller, the U.S. aid worker killed this year while being held hostage by Islamic State militants, was raped repeatedly by the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, while in captivity in Syria, U.S. officials said on Friday.
UPDATE: Wow, lawyers over there can be just as scummy as here:
The gunman who was disarmed by passengers on a train in France two days ago looked weak and malnourished and said he had only meant to rob people, a lawyer who interviewed him after the attack said on Sunday.
Yeah, an automatic rifle and 300 rounds is standard for a robbery.
UPDATE: Oh, and the attacker had a pistol and a box cutter.
Also, a British guy was involved in taking down the attacker as well as a French man:
Chris Norman, a 62-year-old British consultant who lives in France, was also decorated by Hollande on Monday.
Stone said another man, who is French and whose name has not been disclosed, "deserves a lot of the credit" because he was the first one to try to stop the gunman.
The West dodged a bullet. This time.
And sorry about the crack about lawyers. I know good ones. But the worst do give the profession a bad reputation among those who don't have contact with attorneys. They should just start calling themselves the "profession of peace," I suppose.
UPDATE: I wonder if the unnamed French man is an undercover train marshal, or something.