Man Who Thwarted Terrorist on Paris-Bound Train Revealed as Artist

He makes sculpture and paintings, writes books and records music.

Mark Magoolian.
Photo via

American-born artist Mark Moogalian, along with three other Americans and a British passenger, helped to foil the terrorist attack on a high-speed train in Europe on Friday, according to a report in London’s Telegraph. Moogalian’s identity was previously not known.

Moogalian, 51, reportedly teaches at the Sorbonne in Paris. He is said to have tackled the Moroccan-born Ayoub El-Khazzani and dislodged his grip on his Kalashnikov. El-Khazzani then drew a handgun and shot Moogalian through the neck, according to Moogalian’s sister. He is reportedly safe at the hospital, though his sister told the Telegraph that the neck wound did cause nerve damage.

“My husband told me he saw a man who he thought appeared strange because he went into the toilet with his bag and stayed there for a very long time,” his wife, who was also aboard the train, told BFM TV. “Then the man came out and he saw that the man was carrying a weapon and another person was tackling him from behind. He told me, ‘Go, this is serious.’”

French president François Hollande plans to bestow the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest decoration, on the artist, and to invite him to dinner.

Moogalian in a picture from 1995.Image: via Moogalian's website.

Moogalian in a picture from 1995.
Image: via Moogalian’s website.

Moogalian’s website indicates that he was born in Durham, North Carolina. The site shows his work in painting, sculpture, and cyber art. The paintings are in Abstract Expressionist or Art Brut styles, and the sculptures are assemblages in metal. The “cyber paintings” appear to be computer-aided geometric abstractions.

The website also offers links to his 2009 novel Mr. Farride, in whose opening pages, the title character, an American expatriate actor living in France, seemingly has a mental breakdown in which he believes he can communicate with birds and trees. Moogalian’s white terrier Benny, pictured on his website, makes an appearance as Farride’s dog. In one of his films, Farride plays a character named Hans Blemmer (very close to the name of artist Hans Bellmer), a museum curator.

Also on offer are three CDs, the latest titled The Answer, by Secret Season, which is a musical duo of Moogalian and his wife, Isabelle Risacher.


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