What started as a hunt for two terror suspects grew into something worse ? fears of a nest of terrorists that could strike again in the heart of Paris. The suspects in three attacks knew each other, had been linked to previous terrorist activities, and one had fought or trained with al-Qaida in Yemen, which claimed ownership Friday of this week’s newspaper massacre.
Investigators are now trying to determine to what extent the attacks were coordinated.
The Kouachi brothers had been the subject of a vast manhunt following the armed attack on the Charlie Hebdo weekly that claimed 12 lives on Wednesday. The brothers died Friday when police attacked the building near Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris where they had barricaded themselves.
An acquaintance of at least one of the Kouachis, Amedy Coulibaly, 32, was identified as the suspected killer of a policewoman in suburban Paris the previous day ?and as the man armed with a semi-automatic rifle who opened fire Friday in a kosher market near Paris’ Porte de Vincennes and holed up with hostages there.
He threatened to kill his captives if the Kouachis weren’t freed. Like the brothers, he was killed when police moved in.
According to French judicial documents obtained by The Associated Press, the connections among the terrorist suspects date back to 2010, when Coulibaly was sentenced to five years in prison for an abortive attempt to free another terrorist from prison. Smain Ait Ali Belkacem was serving a life sentence for a bombing attack on the Paris rapid transit system in 1995.
Cherif Kouachi, 32, the younger of the brothers, was detained in that investigation, but freed later without being tried. A former pizza deliveryman, he appeared in a 2005 French TV documentary on Islamic extremism and was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008 for trying to join up with fighters battling in Iraq.
The French judicial documents said Coulibaly and the younger Kouachi knew each another, and traveled with their wives in 2010 to central France to visit a radical Islamist, Djamel Beghal, who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison on a terrorism-related charge.
Police issued a bulletin Friday asking anyone with information about Coulibaly’s wife, 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene, to contact them, saying she was potentially “armed and dangerous.”
Read more at ABC NEWS