“How did you hold the Kalashnikov? “ Mark Moogalian’s frail figure moves away from the microphone and mimics. You’d swear he’s got a guitar. An English teacher, this 56-year-old Franco-American with a delicate tone is also a musician. On August 21, 2015, he held a weapon of war between his fingers. Since that day, some agreements “Beginners” escape him. The index finger of his left hand does not respond as before. The bullet that passed through him on the Thalys Amsterdam-Paris could have killed him.
Thursday, November 19, the special court of assizes of Paris began to hear the civil parties of the Thalys attack, mainly passengers whose intervention undoubtedly prevented a massacre. In his sloppy black suit, Mark Moogalian is keen to make a statement before answering questions. He tells, like a dream, how he ended up with the assailant’s assault rifle, the bullet that came out through his neck, the blood that spurted out and the dream he had in sensing death coming.
It is around 5:45 pm Mark Moogalian and his wife, returning from a trip to Amsterdam, are installed in car 12 near the door leading to the airlock where the toilets are located. About ten minutes earlier, Mark saw a man entering the toilet with a rolling suitcase and found it “Strange”. He decides to enter the airlock. Another passenger, Damien A., waits his turn. This very discreet bank employee, the first unsung hero of the Thalys, asked to remain anonymous and did not wish to testify at the trial for “Emotional reasons” : the president read at the hearing his statements to the investigators.
” Hidden camera “
The latch turns. Slowly, the door opens. Ayoub El-Khazzani, a Moroccan jihadist trained in Syria, appears shirtless from the toilet. He wears a backpack on his stomach, “As one carries a child”, will say Damien A. On the bag rests an assault rifle. The three men look at each other. Damien A. thinks of a ” hidden camera “. He smiles. Mark Moogalian is convinced that this is a “Disguise” : “We came from Amsterdam, you never know”, he slips, causing some timid laughter in the room.
The joke doesn’t last. “Instinctively”, Damien A. rushes at the assailant and pushes him against a wall: “I had to stay ten seconds in this position, squeezing her neck with both hands as much as I could (…) It was then that I felt her weakness quite briefly and that I understood that I had a sort of ascendancy over him: his eyes started to blink, his head turned a little to the left side and his legs were wobbling. “
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