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Men jailed after 'terror train' threat in France

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Men jailed after 'terror train' threat in France
The men were slapped with prison sentences of up to two-and-a-half years. File photo: AFP
17:31 CET+01:00
Three young men were sentenced to prison on Wednesday after they threatened to kill train passengers in a failed robbery.
Just five days after 130 people were killed in a terror rampage in Paris last month, a group of young men decided to pull a sickening stunt.
 
They somehow gained access to the loudspeaker on an RER train in the Pyrenees-Orientales southern France, where they made a call to prayer in Arabic.
 
They then threatened to kill passengers if they didn't hand over their mobile phones.
 
Passengers also reported that the men yelled Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), according to Midi Libre newspaper.
 
Those on board thought they were in the midst of a terror attack.
 
"I was paralyzed. My mind immediately went to thoughts of bombs and slaughter," one passenger said, reported L'Express newspaper.
 
The train driver was able to control the situation, contacting police and making at emergency stop at a station along the way. While some of the men escaped, all of the six responsible were arrested by the next morning. 
 
On Wednesday, three of the group were found guilty of crimes including extortion and glorifying terrorism. The men, aged between 19 and 23, were given prison sentences ranging from 12 months to two and a half years.
 
The prosecutor said that the culprits were well aware of the severity of their actions. 
 
"This was a train of terror. They knew they were going to scare people," he said
 
He compared the passengers, who were in tears, to those who escaped the terror attacks in Paris in November. 
 
While the men's lawyers said the act was just a "brainless joke in bad taste", images found on the phones of the convicted showed one of them posing with a large firearm, and another under a jihadi banner. 
 
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