French police officials have identified three men as suspects in the deadly terror attack at the Paris offices of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper. One of the men, 34-year-old Cherif Kouachi, was convicted on terrorism charges in 2008. Two of the suspects, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, 32, are French nationals who were born to Algerian parents in Paris.
Two of the suspects, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, 32, are French nationals who were born to Algerian parents in Paris. The nationality of a third man, Hamid Mourad, 18, is unknown; police believe he is a high school student.
Their names circulated on Facebook and Twitter for an hour before French authorities confirmed that the Kouachi brothers had been identified.
The older brother was arrested in Paris in January 2005 when he was caught trying to fly to Damascus, Syria, on his way to join the Iraqi insurgency, according to a 2008 Bloomberg report. Cherif Kouachi reportedly told a court that he was inspired by detainee abuse by U.S. troops at Baghdad’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison, though he was relieved he was stopped, according to the Bloomberg report.
A 2005 Pittsburgh Tribune Review report, citing Kouachi’s lawyer, said the would-be terrorist was not religious, drank alcohol, smoked marijuana, had premarital sex with his girlfriend and had a job delivering pizzas. At the time, Kouachi had learned “the basics” on how to handle Kalashnikovs, Le Monde reported.
Ironically, in 2008, his name again surfaced in an International Herald Tribune story detailing how security analysts decided their fears over foreign fighters returning to Europe were “overblown.” By then, Kouachi was a fishmonger.
Twelve people were killed in what France’s president called a “terror attack” on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Wednesday, leading authorities to launch a massive manhunt for the gunmen, who remain at large. No arrests have been confirmed in the hunt for the attackers, though an “anti-terror raid” is reportedly underway northeastern city of Reims.
The brothers, caught on tape by an eyewitness, shouted “Allahu akbar!” as they walked outside the building carrying large guns and dressed entirely in black. The magazine staff was in an editorial meeting, around lunchtime in Paris, when the gunmen opened fire. Eleven others were wounded; four of those injuries are serious. Read more…