Said Kouachi, 34, has been named as one of the terror suspects in the attack on French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7. The other suspects have been named as Said’s brother, Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Hamid Mourad, 18.
On January 9, an Al Qaeda cell in Yemen claimed they had directed the attack on Charlie Hebdo.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Said Kouachi Is Dead
The latest information is that the two brothers have been killed after taking a hostage inside of a printing plant close in a rural area, north east of Paris. The brothers had reportedly been prepared to die as martyrs. The building where Said and his brother were holed up was raided by French anti-terrorism cops. During that raid, the brothers were both killed. As French special forces closed in on the pair, the Kouachi brothers reportedly tried to shoot their way out of the building and were shot dead during this attempt.
A French interior ministry spokesman had said just prior to the raid that police want to start a dialogue with the suspects and don’t want to storm the building. In a tweet, the spokesman said “The priority is to establish a dialogue. This can take a long time, hours and sometimes days.” Minutes after that tweet was sent, explosions and gunfire were heard coming from the printing plant. At 11:13 a.m. Eastern time, Sky News in the UK reported that ambulances were driving towards the printing plant. Around ten minutes later, French TV began to report that the Kouachi brothers were dead.
The Guardian reports that there are “tens of thousand of French troops have joined the police hunt.” The small rural towns of Longpont and Villers-Cotterets have been besieged by troops and military equipment as the search goes on. Police were first led to the area when it was reported that the brothers had robbed a gas station around 70 miles north-east of Paris.
As news that the brothers are dead filters through, the hostage situation is over at the kosher supermarket in the neighborhood of Porte de Vincennes, on the eastern edge of Paris. One of the hostage takers, Amedy Coulibaly, 32, was said to be a friend of the Kouachi brothers and is the suspect in the shooting of a French policewoman in southern Paris on January 8. Coulibaly has been killed by French anti-terror police. Four of his hostages were also killed.
Couibaly’s alleged accomplice has been named as 26-year-old female terror suspect Hayat Boumedienne.
2. He Trained in Yemen
In 2011, Said Kourachi “made the trek to the terror hotbed” of Yemen, reports USA Today. U.S. officials believe that while he was there he received formal training from Al Qaeda operatives. While he was there, Said is understood to have come under the tutelage North Carolina-born radical cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki. In September 2011, al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen.
The Associated Press reported in 2008 that Cherif Kouachi had been sentenced to three years in prison in Paris for helping to funnel prospective jihadi fighters from France to Iraq. He served 18 months, with the remainder of his sentence was suspended. In that case, Cherif was named as a member of the 19th arrondissement network, named for the mainly North African neighborhood where they were based.
The New York Times first reported on Cherif in 2005. It was reported that he had become inspired to fight in jihad due to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuses. Prior to the emergence of those abuses, the Liberation newspaper reported, Cherif was not a devout muslim. He had girlfriends, smoked and drank alcohol. AFP reports that one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen “told French TV he was sent and financed by Al Qaeda.”
3. He Was Orphaned by His Parents
Metro News in France reports that Said and Cherif are brothers and were born in the 10th arrondissement neighborhood in Paris. The Kouachi brothers were orphaned by their Algerian-immigrant parents as children and grew up in the city of Rennes, reports Liberation. Both brothers later moved to Paris. A German journalist with the tabloid Bild tweeted a pic, the reporter says it shows the Kouachi brothers together (above).
4. He Left His Passport in the Getaway Car
Said is reported to be 34 years of age. He is a French citizen. Linternaute.com in France reports that cops linked the three suspects to the crime after Said Kouachi left his passport in the getaway car. Witnesses said that one of the attackers at the scene told onlookers, “You can tell the media that it’s al Qaeda in Yemen.”
5. The Attack Was Called ‘Exceptional Barbarity’ by France’s President
Kouachi and his alleged accomplices were armed with assault rifles and rocket launchers when they stormed the headquarters of the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo. In total 12 people were killed when the terrorists, described as commandos, fired as many as 50 shots during the daylight attack.
Of the 12 dead, 10 are journalists and two are police officers. Early reports suggest that specific journalists were called out by the gunmen before being shot. One of the police officers was shot at close range as he lay on the street. You can see more raw footage of the attack above.
Several more people were wounded in the attack, with some in critical condition.
French President Francois Hollande, who quickly arrived at the scene of the horror, called the attack one “of exceptional barbarity” and immediately deemed it to be terrorism.
Among the deceased victims are editor Stephane Charbonnier (pen name “Charb“); cartoonist Jean Cabut (pen name “Cabu,“); Georges Wolinski, an 80-year-old famed cartoonist; and economist Bernard Maris.