The shooter subdued by U.S. Marines on a high-speed French train passing through Belgium on Friday has been identified as Ayoub El Kahzani.
The 26 year old Moroccan is reportedly an Islamic extremist who was under surveillance by French and Spanish intelligence services.
“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,” said Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Interior Minister.
Cazeneuve said collaboration with other European authorities “should establish precisely the activities and travels of this terrorist.”
El Kahzani traveled to Syria in 2014 to receive training to fight in the war against the Syrian government. Virtually all the mercenaries in Syria are radical Islamist and most are aligned with al-Nusra and the Islamic State.
The chief executive of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, Claude Moniquet, told the BBC he believes Ayoub El Kahzani is connected to ISIS.
“Given the profile of the man, given the fact that he was in Syria and given the type of action that he tried to commit, I think we can say without reasonable doubt that he is very probably linked to Islamic State,” Moniquet said.
The attack follows a warning supposedly issued by a Belgian jihadist in Syria last week.
Abdellah Noumane said “libraries, schools, hospitals, shopping centers and even nightclubs” would be attacked. “We no longer care about all the discussions regarding innocent victims. All infidels will be killed,” he said in an audio recording.
It is unclear how the El Kahzani came into possession of an AK-47, which news reports identify as an automatic weapon, and a semiautomatic handgun. He also had a boxcutter, according to news reports, the same weapon the 9/11 hijackers allegedly used to commandeer aircraft.