The 15:17 to Paris

As if the world didn't already have enough problems, we never know when a lone wolf will strike. Just like terrorist cells that lie dormant. Hiding underground like a submerged volcano, unpredictable when it will unleash its explosive and deadly power.

Only the perpetrators know where and when they'll strike, what weapons and explosives they will use, what they hope to achieve and what triggers their intentions for so-called revenge. Occasionally, intelligence authorities are able to prevent a terrorist attack but sleeper cells could be hiding anywhere and until the terrorists comes to the attention of police or intelligence groups, they have no reason to stand out.

I've been meaning to watch The 15:17 to Paris for quite some time and I finally did so, over the weekend.

Clint Eastwood's The 15 17 to Paris movie poster Thalys high-speed 9364 train Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station to France terrorist attack foiled
'The 15:17 to Paris' movie poster

Three young men from Sacramento, California: Spencer Stone (22), Alek Skarlatos (22) and Anthony Sadler (23), became friends whilst attending the K-12 Freedom Christian School. Still friends some 10 years later, they meet up in Europe to reunite on a three-week long backpacking vacation.

The Event

After visiting Rome, Venice, Munich, Berlin and Amsterdam, the trio decide to head to Paris, after some debate. On 21 August 2015, they catch the 15:17 Thalys high-speed 9364 train, a journey that takes three hours and 20 minutes. There are 554 passengers on board. (Interestingly today, whether or not it was a direct result of the publicity from this event, the train now leaves Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station at 15:15).

Thalys high-speed 9364 train Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station to Paris France, Stationsplein noud rue de Maubeuge journey flying first class
Thalys high-speed 9364 train from Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station to Paris, France

Ayoub El Khazzani, a 25-year-old Moroccan national is also a passenger on the train, having boarded in the Belgian capital of Brussels. Hidden in his backpack, he's armed with a side-folding Draco AK-47 assault rifle with a collapsible butt and a slant-cut muzzle, a 9mm Luger semi-automatic pistol, 270 rounds of ammunition, a box cutter, a bottle of gasoline and a hammer.

Ayoub El Khazzani Moroccan national boarded the train in the Belgian capital of Brussels as passenger armed with assault rifle, Luger semi automatic pistol, ammunition
Ayoub El Khazzani, the Moroccan terrorist

Spencer Stone is a 6'3" tall, 99.7kg solidly-built Senior Airman (Medical Technician) with the United States Air Force.

Spencer Stone Senior Airman Medical Technician United States Air Force staff sergeant from Sacramento California French nationality actor writer hero
Spencer Stone, Senior Airman Medical Technician with the United States Air Force

At the time of the incident, he was dozing off with his headphones. A uniformed member of staff sprints past in the aisle, catching the attention of Skarlatos, who's seated next to him. Skarlatos looks up and notices the door of the carriage sliding open. He sees El Khazzani walking through it, carrying an AK-47 in his hands with a backpack on his chest. They would later find hundreds of ammunition rounds in the bag.

American-born Frenchman Mark Moogalian is suddenly shot in the neck.

American born Frenchman Mark Moogalian is shot in the neck by El Khazzani Thalys high speed 9364 train Sorbonne professor of English tackled gunman