French police have identified three suspects in Wednesday’s terrorist attack on a satirical magazine’s Paris offices, including one with ties to al-Qaida in Iraq and its now-dead, infamous former leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The officials, working in tandem with the FBI, named the alleged attackers of the Charlie Hebdo office as brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, together with Hamyd Mourad. The Kouachis are French-born citizens in their 30s, while Mourad’s nationality is not yet known. He is reportedly a homeless 18-year-old. (RELATED: Ahmed Merabet, Cop Killed in Paris Attacks, Was Muslim)
Chérif Kouachi was tried in 2008 as part of a French Islamist terror cell filtering terrorist fighters to al-Zarqawi-linked terror cells in Iraq. He was sentenced to three years in prison, though 18 months of those were suspended. CBS reported at the time that he was motivated to become a terrorist by “outrage at television images of torture of Iraqi inmates at the U.S. prison at Abu Ghraib.” He was ancillary to the group then, and not a key leader.
Police followed the suspects to the city of Reims, about 80 miles from Paris, where Mourad allegedly lives. Unconfirmed reports at the time of this story say that French law enforcement had arrested the suspects.
Reports from the scene of the crime mentioned that the attackers conducted themselves expertly, not firing any more rounds than necessary. For this reason, many suspected them to be the products of a jihadi training camp, rather than improvising “lone wolf” terrorists.
Terror analyst Clint Watts concurred on Wednesday, culling evidence that the attack was likely carried out with some degree of coordination with either al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula or with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Al-Zarqawi, who infamously led a brutal terror campaign designed to spark a religious Iraqi civil war, was killed by two 500-pound U.S. bombs in June 2006.
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