On 21 August 2015, Ayoub al-Khazzani boarded a train in Brussels bound for Paris. We now know that he was an ISIS terrorist. Khazzani’s mission was clear: he had an AK-47, a pistol, a box cutter, and enough ammunition to obliterate the 554 passengers on the crowded train. But as he began to execute his plan, he encountered an unstoppable line of defence: three American friends.
The 15:17 to Paris is a gripping account of the foiled attack by the three men who lived it—Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone. It is also the story of what compelled three lifelong friends to run towards danger instead of from it—towards humanity, not away from terror.
Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone grew up in California and became friends at school. Sadler is a student at Sacramento State University; Skarlatos is an active duty member of the Oregon National Guard; and Stone is a Staff Sergeant in the US Air Force. Jeffrey E. Stern is an author and a frequent contributor to the Atlantic and Vanity Fair.
‘Because of their courage, because of their quick thinking, because of their teamwork…a lot of people were saved and a real calamity was averted. They represent the very best of America, American character and you know, it’s these kinds of young people who make me extraordinarily optimistic and hopeful about our future.’ Barack Obama, President of the United States
‘In the name of France, I would like to thank you. The whole world admires your bravery. It should be an example to all of us and inspire us. You put your lives at risk in order to defend freedom. You gave us a lesson in courage, in will, and thus in hope. Faced with the evil called terrorism there is a good, that is humanity. You are the incarnation of that.’ François Hollande, President of France