World

Paris Hostage-Taker Once Met Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter

Amedy Coulibaly, one of the three men killed in a Kosher market during a massive manhunt following the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, was once somehow able to attend a meeting with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss youth employment, despite having being an ex-convict at the time.

Coulibaly reportedly executed four hostages in the Kosher market on Friday before being killed by police.

The standoff followed a manhunt which began after the Kouachi brothers, armed with AK-47s, stormed the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, killing 10 people there before murdering two police officers.

Coulibaly and a female accomplice, Hayat Boumeddiene, are also believed to have murdered a Paris police officer in a separate incident on Thursday.

But in July 2009, Coulibaly, 27 years old at the time and working at a Coca-Cola plant, was granted access to Sarkozy.

Coulibaly was interviewed ahead of the summit.

“Ultimately, if the president can help me get hired, it’s good,” Coulibaly told Le Parisien in an interview, to which Sarkozy invited a number of people to discuss youth employment.

“I do not know what I’ll say. Already, I’ll start with Hello!” said Coulibaly, according to a translation of the article.

“In the cities, with youth, Sarkozy is not really very popular. But it’s nothing personal. In fact, it is the case of most politicians.”

Coulibaly attended the meeting despite having been a convicted felon at the time. He was sent to prison in 2001 for armed robbery, The Washington Post reported. While locked up, Coulibaly converted to radical Islam and met Cherif Kouachi, who was imprisoned after he was caught trying to travel to Iraq via Syria to fight against U.S. interests.

Both became followers of Djamel Beghal, a French-Algerian who had ties to al-Qaida and who was convicted of plotting to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Paris in 2001.

Witnesses to the Charlie Hebdo shooting said that the Kouachi brothers claimed they were affiliated with al-Qaida.

The Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly are believed to have been a part of the Buttes-Chaumont network which operates in Paris.

Because of their terror links, the Kouachi brothers were placed on a U.S. “no-fly” list.

Less than a year after the Sarkozy event, Coulibaly was found with 240 rounds of ammunition used in Kalashanikov rifles, the guns used by the Kouachi brothers in their terrorist attack, according to The Post.

Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi were also named as accomplices in a plot to free Islamic terrorist Smain Ait Ali Belkacem from prison, where he was being held for a 1995 Paris metro bombing which injured 30 people, the U.K. Express reported.

Coulibaly was arrested in 2013 and sentenced to five years in prison following an attempt to free Beghal from prison. According to the U.K. Express, he was freed from prison just two months ago.

Hayat Boumeddiene, Coulibaly’s accomplice in Thursday’s police shooting is reportedly still at large.

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