Clearly this military attack in Paris had additional targets. How big was this Islamic team? How many? Who trained them? Where? What mosque did they belong to? Who was their imam?
French investigators found a dozen Molotov cocktails and two jihadist flags in the getaway car used in the massacre at a Paris magazine, a source close to the case told AFP Thursday.
French special operations forces deployed Thursday in a northern town where two brothers suspected of having gunned down 12 people in an Islamist attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo are believed to be located, a police source said.
The jihadist flags and gas bombs were found in the abandoned black Citroen used by the attackers to speed away from the offices of the Charlie Hebdo weekly after they carried out the assault.
“This shows their Islamist radicalization and that they had possibly planned other acts with the petrol bombs,” the source said.
RAID, the anti-terrorist unit of the French police force, and the GIGN, a paramilitary special operations unit, deployed in Villers-Cotterets in the northern Aisne region “where a car was abandoned after being used by the two suspects, who were identified by a witness,” the source told AFP.
Cherif, born on November 28, 1982, in Paris not far from where the attack took place, had already been jailed in 2008 for his role in sending fighters to Iraq.
Cherif and Said Kouachi, suspects in the deadly Paris attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices that killed 12 people on Wednesday January 7, 2015. (Screenshot/French police)
Cherif and Said Kouachi, suspects in the deadly Paris attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices that killed 12 people on January 7, 2015. (Screenshot/French police)
Sometimes going by the name Abu Issen, he was part of the “Buttes-Chaumont network” that helped send would-be jihadists to join Al Qaeda in Iraq during the US-led invasion in the mid-2000s.
He was arrested in 2005 just before he was due to fly to Syria and on to Iraq — and was later sentenced to three years in prison, including an 18-month suspended sentence.
At his trial in 2008, he said he was inspired by the abuse of detainees by US troops at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison, but was relieved he did not have to go through with the trip.
In a 2005 interview published by the Pittsburgh Tribune, his lawyer Vincent Ollivier said Kaouchi, then 22, was not particularly religious. “He drank, smoked pot, slept with his girlfriend and delivered pizzas for a living,” the newspaper reported.
He told the court during his trial that he was working at a supermarket and his main interest was now rap music.
Yet shortly after his release from prison, Kaouchi’s name was cited in a police report related to the attempted prison escape of Smain Ait Ali Belkacem.
Belkacem was a former member of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) that carried out a spate of bombings and a plane hijacking in France in the 1990s.
Belkacem was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002 for a bombing at the Musee D’Orsay rail station in Paris in October 1995 that left around 30 injured.
Kouachi was also suspected of being close to another notorious French jihadist, Djamel Beghal, serving a 10-year sentence for his role as a “kingpin” in the Belkacem escape attempt in May 2010.
With a shaved head and sparse goatee in the photo sent out by police, Cherif Kouachi is considered “armed and dangerous.”
His brother Said was born on September 7, 1980, also in Paris. His photo shows him with brown eyes, lightly bearded with short brown hair.
—Courtesy of Pamela Gellar