Suspects in Charlie Hebdo attack well-known to anti-terror police

Updated 08 January 2015
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Suspects in Charlie Hebdo attack well-known to anti-terror police

PARIS: Cherif Kouachi, the 32-year-old hunted along with his older brother Said for the attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo is a jihadist who has been well-known to anti-terror police for many years.
Cherif, who was 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.
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 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.
Two years later, his name was cited in a police report related to the attempted prison escape of Smain Ait Ali Belkacem, 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 30 injured.
Cherif Kouachi was also suspected of being close to another key French jihadist, Djamel Beghal, who spent 10 years in prison for planning attacks.
They were suspected of participating in militant training programs together, although charges in this case were dropped against Kouachi.
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.
Their presumed accomplice, who handed himself into police in northeastern France was identified as Mourad Hamyd, the 18-year-old step-brother of Cherif Kouachi.
He is suspected of helping the two brothers in the attack, with one witness saying a third man was in the car when they made their getaway.
Hamyd presented himself to police in the town of Charleville-Mezieres “after seeing his name on social networks,” a source close to the investigation told AFP.
Several of his school friends had taken to Twitter saying he had been in class with them at the time of the attack, using the hashtag #MouradHamydInnocent.


Eiffel Tower evacuated after climber spotted on monument

Updated 4 min 20 sec ago
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Eiffel Tower evacuated after climber spotted on monument

PARIS: The Eiffel Tower was evacuated on Monday afternoon after a man was spotted climbing up the Paris landmark, the company that operates the structure said.
"A climber has been spotted. It's the standard procedure. We have to stop the person, and in that case we evacuate the tower," an official with the SETE operator told AFP, adding that police were on the scene.
The esplanade underneath the monument was also evacuated.
"We kindly advise our visitors to postpone their visit," the SETE added on Twitter.
Police have made contact with the climber but do not yet know why he began his ascent via the iron beams, a police source told AFP.
The tower is regularly the target of rogue freeclimbers hoping to scale one of the world's most famous structures, often for bragging rights.

An unidentified man (L) climbs the Eiffel Tower, which had to be evacuated, in Paris, France, May 20, 2019. (Reuters)

But police have also been called in several times in recent years to try to thwart suicide attempts.
In October 2017, a young man ventured out on one of the beams and threatened to jump before police were able to convince him to come back.
In 2012, a British man managed to climb to the very top of the 324-metre-high tower before plunging to his death.
Nearly seven million people a year visit the 324-metre-high structure, which last week celebrated its 130th anniversary.


The first two floors can be reached by either elevator or stairs, but only elevators whisk people to the top observation deck.
That didn't stop the French urban freeclimber Alain Robert from making it one of his first targets in his campaign to scale the world's biggest buildings with no technical climbing gear.
He got to the top -- not including the antenna-- in the mid 1990s.