Head lowered, a suspected Isis operative listened silently as a Paris judge today outlined his alleged plot to unleash mass slaughter on a high-speed train before he was tackled and subdued by Americans.
The holidaymakers' heroics inspired Clint Eastwood to direct a Hollywood re-enactment.
Opening a month-long trial for Ayoub El Khazzani, the judge said the 31-year-old Moroccan with ties to a notorious mastermind intended to "kill all the passengers" aboard the Amsterdam to Paris train in 2015 but "lost control of events."
El Khazzani, who is on trial with three suspected accomplices, acknowledged the charges against him with a simple "Yes."
He risks life in prison if convicted of attempted terrorist murder.
The heavily-armed and bare-chested El Khazzani wounded a French-American who managed to briefly yank a Kalashnikov from his hands before the three American tourists took him down.
The drama on the train is portrayed by investigators as one of a series of Isis-linked attacks in Europe that include the November 13, 2015 massacre in Paris at a music hall and cafes that killed 130 people. A failed 2015 attack in Verviers, Belgium, and 2016 attacks in Brussels are also among them.
The suspected mastermind of the Paris massacre, Abdel Hamid Abaaoud, also worked as behind-the-scenes leader of the train attack, according to investigators. Their probe showed that Abaaoud and El Khazzani travelled together from Syria to Belgium and holed up with Chatra in a Brussels apartment.
French special forces killed Abaaoud days after the Bataclan attack.
The alleged train attack plot went awry when passengers moved in on El Khazzani.
One of the Americans who tackled the gunman told investigators that he seemed high on drugs and "completely crazy," the judge said.
A lawyer for the two US servicemen and their friend, whose electrifying capture of El Khazzani inspired Eastwood's movie The 15:17 to Paris, said their heroics during the drama on August 21, 2015 thwarted a "slaughter."
"This terror attack could have killed up to 300 people based on the number of ammunition that was found on the terrorist and in his bag," said the lawyer, Thibault de Montbrial.
El Khazzani boarded the train in Brussels armed with a Kalashnikov, nine clips with 30 rounds each, an automatic pistol and a cutter, according to investigators. A bottle of high flammable yellow liquid also was found in black suitcase, the judge said.
His lawyer, Sarah Mauger-Poliak, said El Khazzani "regrets having allowed himself to become indoctrinated" by extremist propaganda and wants "to demonstrate his remorse." He wants to speak to the victims if allowed, she said.
El Khazzani, bearded under his mask and his hair pulled back in a bun, said when asked about his prison conditions after several reprimands, "It's hard," but "I deserve it."
Three others, who were not on the train, are being tried as alleged accomplices.
Bilal Chatra, 24, an Algerian member of Isis, would have been the second man on the train but dropped out of the plot a week earlier. He left Syria for Europe a week before to set up the exit route.
Mohamed Bakkali allegedly sheltered the attackers in Budapest, Hungary, which he denies. The two were arrested in Germany in 2016. A third man, Redouane El Amrani Ezzerrifi, allegedly piloted a boat to help in their return to Europe.
The trial ties into the massacre of 130 people in Paris three months later, on November 13, 2015, at the Bataclan music hall and restaurants and cafes.