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3 Americans Who Thwarted Train Attack Receive France's Legion Of Honor

French President Francois Hollande and U.S. Ambassador to France Jane D. Hartley stand with (from left) Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler as they leave the Elysee Palace in Paris. The three American men, along with a British citizen, were pinned with Legion of Honor medals Monday morning for tackling a gunman on a train.
Michel Euler

Three young Americans, who are credited with thwarting a terrorist attack on a French train, were given France's highest honor Monday morning.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley tells our Newscast unit that French President Francois Hollande welcomed Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos to Elysee Palace in Paris and made them Knights of the Legion of Honor.

Eleanor filed this report:

"One by one, President Hollande pinned the medal and ribbon to the chests of the three Americans and one British citizen who had tackled the gunman in the train.

"The Legion of Honor was created by Napoleon, and is reserved to those who give outstanding service to the nation.

"Hollande said the men's selfless courage had given a lesson in humanity to all the world.

" 'We cannot be afraid as long as we have individuals like this in our midst,' he said.

"A Frenchman who also jumped on the gunman is still in hospital and wishes to remain anonymous. The suspect, a 26-year-old Moroccan man, is still being questioned by French anti-terrorist police."

From the AP, here's video of the ceremony:

Meanwhile, France 24 reports that the alleged gunman, Ayoub el-Khazzani, says he was not plotting a terrorist attack. Instead, his lawyer said, he says he was trying to rob one passenger.

France 24 reports:

"He said he merely stumbled upon a weapons stash in a park in Belgium and decided to use it to rob passengers, according to Sophie David, a lawyer assigned to his case when he was taken off the train in Arras, northern France.

" 'He is dumbfounded that his act is being linked to terrorism,' David told BFM-TV, adding that Khazzani said he was homeless."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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