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.


Wanted Sri Lanka radical Hashim died in hotel attack

Updated 36 min 4 sec ago
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Wanted Sri Lanka radical Hashim died in hotel attack

  • Hashim appeared in a video released by the Daesh group after they claimed the bombings
  • The president said he was killed during the Shangri-La attack

COLOMBO: An extremist believed to have played a key role in Sri Lanka’s deadly Easter bombings died in an attack on a Colombo hotel, the country’s president confirmed Friday.
“What intelligence agencies have told me is that Zahran was killed during the Shangri-La attack,” President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters, referring to Zahran Hashim, leader of a local extremist group.
Hashim appeared in a video released by the Daesh group after they claimed the bombings, but his whereabouts after the blasts was not immediately clear.
Sirisena did not immediately clarify what Hashim’s role was in the attack on the Shangri-La, one of six bomb blasts that killed over 250 people on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Sirisena also said police are looking for 140 people believed to have links with the Daesh group over the attacks.
Sirisena told reporters some Sri Lankan youths had been involved with the extremist group since 2013, and that top defense and police chiefs had not shared information with him about the impending attacks.
He also blamed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government for weakening the intelligence system by focusing on the prosecution of military officers over alleged war crimes during a decade-long civil war with Tamil separatists.