President hosts heroes: Barack Obama Train Heroes

Published: September 18, 2015

President hosts heroes: Barack Obama Train Heroes, President Barack Obama met on Thursday with the three American men who helped thwart an apparent terrorist attack in Belgium last month, whom he said represented “the very best of America.”

In an Oval Office meeting with Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler, Mr. Obama said their bravery and quick thinking saved many lives on a Paris-bound train last month during an attempted mass shooting.

“Because of their courage, because of their quick thinking, because of their teamwork, it’s fair to say that a lot of people were saved,” Mr. Obama said in brief remarks at the White House followed by a photo opportunity. “A real calamity was averted.”

The three men – one an Oregon National Guardsman and other an airman in the Air Force – helped subdue Ayoub El-Khazzani, who was armed with an AK-47 rifle and a box cutter in late August.

Mr. Stone tackled the alleged gunman, while Mr. Skarlatos helped disarm him. They were joined by Mr. Sander in subduing the man, who authorities say planned to commit a terrorist attack on a train traveling through Belgium.

A lawyer who represented Mr. El-Khazzani shortly after his arrest said he wanted to rob the train’s passengers, not commit a terrorist attack.

The three Americans were childhood friends on a European vacation. Their quick action has led them to be hailed as heroes and honored by the French government.

“We owe all of our gratitude and recognition for the sang-froid they showed, without which a terrible tragedy probably would have befallen us,” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said last month.

Mr. Obama said, “It’s these kinds of young people that made me extraordinarily optimistic and hopeful about our future.”

The three men will also be honored at a Pentagon ceremony on Thursday afternoon.

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