The alleged attacker, named as 25-year-old Moroccan national Ayob El Khazzani, opened fire with an assault rifle but was wrestled to the floor by three American passengers hailed as heros.
Fingerprint evidence confirmed his identity and it was also revealed he is known to European authorities as a suspected Islamist militant, according to a source familiar with the case. He was reportedly under surveillance by Spanish authorities.
The shooting, which underlined the difficulties faced by intelligence services tracking an unprecedented number of potential jihadists, is expected to lead to tighter security for international train services in Europe.
US man who stopped gunman leaves hospital
The US airman who was stabbed in the neck as he disarmed a terrorist with a Kalashnikov on a French passenger train has left hospital.
US Air Force serviceman Spencer Stone, 23, whose left arm was bandaged and in a sling, gave a wave as he walked out of a hospital in Lille, in northern France on Saturday night.
Counter-terrorism investigators formally identified the gunman as 26-year-old Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani. He was armed with an AK-47 and a handgun on the Amsterdam-Paris train on Friday.
Stone was helped by US National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos 22, and Sacramento State University student Anthony Sadler, 23, along with British IT expert Chris Norman in tackling El-Khazzani.
Norman, a grandfather who lives in France said he helped the three Americans overpower the gunman who opened fire on the train because he thought he was “probably going to die anyway”.
“I would rather die being active, trying to get him down than simply sit in the corner and be shot,” he said.
Stone and Skarlatos, who had returned from a deployment in Afghanistan in July, grabbed the man while Sadler and Norman also helped restrain him.
Norman said he heard “glass breaking and then saw somebody running down the aisle to the front of the train”.
Then he spotted the AK-47.
“My first reaction was to sit down and hide. Then I heard one guy, an American say ‘go get him’. Then I heard another American say ‘don’t you do that buddy’ or something like that.
“Then I decided that perhaps this was the only chance for us to act as a team and try to take over.”
“We ended up by tying him up, then during the process the guy actually pulled out a cutter.
“He cut Spencer behind the neck, he nearly cut his thumb off too. Spencer held him and we eventually got him under control. He went unconscious, I think.”
Skarlatos freed the handgun from the man and threw it away. He then grabbed the AK-47 which was at his feet and started “muzzle-thumping him in the head with it”.
He told Sky News “everybody just started beating on the guy while Spencer held the choke hold, until he went unconscious at that point. People started to restrain him”.
Skarlatos picked up the AK-47 and checked the other carriages in case there was another gunman.
He returned to carriage 12, where it all started, cleared the weapons and put them in a pile.
“I noticed when I removed the round in the chamber of the AK that the primer had been struck, which means he pulled the trigger on the AK,” he said.
“The primer was just faulty, so the gun did not go off, luckily, and he did not know how to fix it, which was also very lucky.
“When I cleared the handgun I also noticed that there was no magazine in it – so he had either dropped it accidentally or did not load it properly. He was only able to get what appeared to be one shot off with the handgun.”