In the hours after last month's terror attacks in Paris, a Muslim security guard at the Stade de France was hailed as a hero after it was reported that he prevented one of the suicide bombers from entering the stadium. However, it turned out that the guard, identified as Zouheir, was not the person who turned away the terrorist — spoiling a hopeful story that went viral in the wake of the Nov. 13 massacre.
But, according to NBC News, a Muslim security guard did, in fact, help prevent the attack: Salim Toorabally, a 42-year-old Mauritian immigrant who was checking tickets at a turnstile when a man in a dark jacket tried to sneak past him.
"He didn't have a ticket, so I stopped him," Toorabally told NBC. "I said, 'If you don't have a ticket, I'm not letting you in.'"
The man insisted he was meeting a friend inside who had a ticket for him, Toorabally said, but the guard didn't waver.
Toorabally said he then spotted the same man trying to enter the stadium through another turnstile, and warned the guard not to let him in.
A few minutes later, the man, later identified as 20-year-old Bilal Hadfi, blew himself up along with two other suicide bombers outside the stadium. One bystander was killed.
Toorabally says he can still "hear" and "smell" the explosions.
"It stays with me," he said. "The air was burning."
"I felt the explosion right in the heart," Toorabally continued. "I knew it wasn't fireworks coming from inside the stadium. But I didn't see anything happening in the streets."
Toorabally said he went to the aid of the guards who had been wounded and helped evacuate the stadium, not knowing the man he stopped was one of the bombers. Only later, when police showed him a photograph of Hadfi, did he realize his brush with terror.
"I didn't pay attention to this clothes, but I got a good look at his face," he said. "I saw this man alive."
The terrorists killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more in a series of coordinated attacks across Paris. But had the suicide bombers managed to get into the stadium, the death toll could have been much, much higher.
Toorabally, though, doesn't consider himself a hero.
"I could have been a victim too," he said.