Said Kouachi, 34, named as one of the terror suspects in the attack on French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7, has reportedly been killed by authorities. The other suspects have been named as Said’s brother,Cherif Kouachi, 32, who was also killed, and Hamid Mourad, 18, who was previously captured by police.
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. Kouachi Was Killed Alongside His Brother Inside of a Print-Works Factory
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 With al-Qaeda
Both Said and Cherif Kouachi have been on the U.S. terrorism “no-fly” watchlist for years, before Barack Obama became president, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
As reported by NBC, Said Kouachi was trained by al-Qaeda forces in Yemen, in 2011, according to two U.S. counterterrorism officials who were not named in the report.
Said Kouachi’s brother, Cherif Kouachi’s alleged terrorist credentials are impressive: The Telegraph reported him as “a disciple” of al-Qaeda’s Djamel Beghal, himself a lieutenant of known al-Qaeda leader Abu Hamza. Beghal, reportedly based at a mosque in London’s Finsbury Park, may have recruited the shoe bomber Richard Reid as well as Zacarias Moussaoui, known as the “20th hijacker” in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
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.
In 2011, Cherif’s brother, Said, is believed to have traveled to Yemen for training from Al Qaeda operatives.
3. Cherif & Said Kouachi Were Born in Paris
Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi were born in Paris, raised in the French city of Rennes, and later moved back to Paris, where Cherif worked as pizza delivery man, reports Liberation. The Kouachi brothers were orphaned by their Algerian-immigrant parents as children.
Reports indicated their early lives were centered around rap music and marijuana.
The Daily Mail, in its coverage of the bothers, called them “dope-smoking, rapping, ‘loser’ brothers” who delivered pizza in order to buy weed money.
It was in jail that Cherif allegedly met Beghal, and the two were later photographed by intelligence agents playing soccer with other known terrorists in southern France, according to The Telegraph.
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. On January 8, the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack, a rap video apparently featuring Cherif Kouachi appeared:
4. The Investigation Moved From City to Forest
According to Business Insider, the search party for the Kouachi was comprised of 50,000 police plus 1,150 military personnel.
In the days leading up to the arrest, French security forces elevated the terror threat in the country to the highest possible level. La Parisien reported that cops had made raids on homes in Paris and also in the city of Reims related to the Charlie Hebdo attack.
On Thursday, media reports said the pair may have robbed a gas station in northern France, near the town of Villers-Cotterets, stealing food and gasoline before escaping again in a car hijacked in Paris the day before.
Le Figaro in France reported that there is a tactical operation underway on a house in Reims involving anti-terror cops. The newspaper reports the goal of the mission is to “arrest the suspects.”
The investigation then appeared to move to the Forêt de Retz, a large forest near the town, with police converging at a farmhouse near the village of Longpont.
5. He Left His Passport in the Getaway Car
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.”