LONDON - The father of a Moroccan man accused of a foiled attack on a crowded Amsterdam-Paris train described his son on Sunday as a "good boy" who worked hard and never talked politics.
Ayoub El Khazzani, 25, is being questioned by French anti-terror investigators after he opened fire on a high-speed train on Friday evening before being overpowered by passengers.
"I have no idea what he was thinking and I have not spoken to him for over a year," Mohamed El Khazzani told British newspaper The Telegraph in Algeciras in Spain.
"He was a good boy, very hardworking." The suspected gunman "never talked politics; just football and fishing," his father told the Telegraph, breaking into sobs.
The alleged attacker maintains was only trying to rob passengers and is said to be "dumbfounded" by accusations he was planning a terror attack.
Asked about this defence, his father said "It's all very strange" before breaking into sobs again, the Telegraph reported.
Khazzani boarded the Paris-bound Thalys train in Brussels, armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, Luger automatic pistol, ammunition and a box-cutter.
He had been flagged as an Islamic extremist by intelligence services in Belgium, France, German and Spain.
The Khazzani family has lived in Spain since 2007, the Telegraph reported, and the suspected gunman was arrested twice in Madrid for selling hashish in 2009.
Mohamed El Khazzani, a father of five who works recycling materials, said his son may have been affected by a French telecommunications company that brought him to France to work on a six-month contract that was terminated early.
"After one month they were just kicked out. So now he's in France, not Spain. What is he meant to do? What is he supposed to eat?" the senior Khazzani said.
"They're criminals in that company, using people like that."