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Morrocan Immigrants In Spain Shaken By Attack On French Train


We're going to go now to southern Spain to the former home of Ayoub El-Khazzani. He's the 25-year-old Moroccan man accused of last week's attack on high-speed train in France. He lived in Spain until last year. Lauren Frayer sent this report from his hometown.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Flamenco wails from windows ajar in this poor section of Algeciras. From this port city at Spain's southern tip, you can see Morocco across the Mediterranean. Among the many Moroccans who live here are the El-Khazzani's, whose son Ayoub has now been charged with terrorism.

A family friend, Rachid Mohamed, answers the door of the El-Khazzani's home. He says Ayoub's parents are so distraught, they fled to Morocco last night.

RACHID MOHAMED: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: "Ayoub was a good kid. He used to like to play soccer and go fishing - normal stuff," he says. "Around two years ago, he stopped going to nightclubs and being such a hippie. He was getting his act together, he says." He'd been arrested three times for drug offenses, but a year and a half ago, Ayoub El-Khazzini told people here he'd landed a job with a cell phone company and left for France. A few months before he left, his brother Imran - also in his 20s - was expelled from Spain.

JUAN CARLOS RODRIGUEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: "Both brothers used to come into my shop," says Juan Carlos Rodriguez, grinding keys at his hardware store around the corner. Imran was deported to Morocco, and then Ayoub started wearing a long white tunic and a white Islamic cap. Officially, Imran was deported because his residency expired. But Spanish media say it was because he preached jihad at a local mosque. After Imran was deported, Ayoub's name was added to Spain's terror watch list. I went to their neighborhood mosque, where I found Kamal Cheddad, president of the local Muslim association. He was praying.

KAMAL CHEDDAD: (Praying in foreign language).

(Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: "We live here in peace and coexistence. We've never had a problem," he says. "This is a humble working neighborhood." Cheddad says he knows the El-Khazzini family and is shocked by the charges against Ayoub.

CHEDDAD: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: "It's a shame. He's lost his family. He's lost his friends. He's lost his future," he says. "He's lost everything." All this news has shaken the Muslim community here. The mayor has called an emergency town hall meeting for Friday. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Algeciras, Spain. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.