Freedom Foundation

Alek Skarlatos, hero of 2015 terrorist attack on French train, joins Freedom Foundation

Every Freedom Foundation staffer is notable for the courageous work they do every day in the organization’s battle against the foes of liberty. But the latest addition to its roster of heroes literally personifies the word.

Alek Skarlatos, who joined the Freedom Foundation in January as national director of development, was one of three U.S. citizens who in 2015 disarmed a terrorist aboard a French passenger train, saving countless lives in the process.

For his efforts, Skarlatos, an Army veteran of the war in Afghanistan, was awarded the Soldier’s Medal, in addition to the Legion of Honor by the French government.

He later portrayed himself in the 2018 Clint Eastwood film, “The 15:17 to Paris” and even competed on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Skarlatos ran unsuccessfully for Congress from his home state of Oregon in 2020.

“I was honestly trying my best to kill or restrain him,” Skarlatos said of grappling with a 31-year-old Moroccan national who boarded the Paris-bound train in Brussels armed with a Soviet Kalashnikov rifle, nine clips with 30 rounds each, an automatic pistol and a box cutter.

Skarlatos was on vacation with two friends and all three jumped the assailant moments after he began firing.

Skarlatos wrestled the pistol from the terrorist’s hand and attempted to fire it, but the weapon failed.

French president François Hollande hailed the exploits of Skarlatos, his friends Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, as well as British businessman Chris Norman, noting the men “faced (off) with terror” and “gave us a lesson in courage, in will, and therefore in hope.”

Skarlatos in November lost a bitterly contested race for Congress with long-time Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, who needed millions of dollars from out-of-state donors to hold off the young upstart.

He became familiar with the Freedom Foundation during his campaign and was eager to join the team when the offer was extended.

“We’re not only honored to have a man with Alek’s courage and character representing the Freedom Foundation,” said Aaron Withe, the organization’s national director. “We’re also excited to be working with someone with his energy and ideas. We think Alek is a perfect fit for us.”

Skarlatos agreed.

“I’m super excited to be working with an action-oriented nonprofit like the Freedom Foundation,” he said, “especially during a time of such growth for the organization. I look forward to helping take our message nationally.”

As the Freedom Foundation continues its relentless growth into other states, Skarlatos will play a key role in securing financing.

“We have big plans moving forward as an organization,” Withe said, “and Alek is going to be a major part of all that.”

Skarlatos will be situated in Oregon, one of five U.S. states in which the Freedom Foundation has offices.
Founded in 1991, the Freedom Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank promoting free markets and limited, accountable government.