Search For Hayat Boumeddiene, Woman Linked To 'Charlie Hebdo' Terrorists, Continues As France Is Placed On High Alert
A day after French police staged two deadly raids, the nationwide search for suspected terrorist Hayat Boumeddiene continues in France on Saturday. Boumeddiene is believed to be the accomplice to Amedy Coulibaly, who allegedly seized a kosher market in Paris on Friday and may be linked to Charlie Hebdo terrorists Said and Cherif Kouachi. Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers were killed on Friday in two simultaneous stand-offs with French police.
According to The New York Times, French authorities appealed to the public for information about Boumeddiene's whereabouts. However, Boumeddiene's role in the terrorist attacks that have plagued France since the Charlie Hebdo massacre on Jan. 7 is still unclear. Authorities believe the 26-year-old woman may possibly be linked to Thursday's attack on Paris police, which left a policewoman dead and a city employee seriously wounded. Boumeddiene was also initially believed to be in the kosher market when the hostage situation unfolded on Friday, but now French authorities cannot support that claim, Fox News reports.
Many media outlets, including The Times, have reported that the 26-year-old was the girlfriend of Coulibaly and may have helped him in his mission. Meanwhile, The Daily Mail stated Boumeddiene was actually married to Coulibaly; however, the couple reportedly never married in civil court, which is the only type of marriage recognized in secular France.
As the massive search for Boumeddiene continues, links have begun to emerge between Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers. Sky News reports that Boumeddiene was in contact with the wife of one of the Kouachi brothers. In 2010, the two couples reportedly traveled to the south of France to visit Djamel Beghal, a radical Islamist who allegedly mentored the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly. According to The Telegraph, Beghal "recruited" Cherif Kouachi about 10 years ago when he was serving time in prison.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins also told Sky News that Boumeddiene made hundreds of calls to the wife of one of the Kouachi brothers in 2014 alone. French media has reported that Boumeddiene, who was previously interrogated by the French government, was open about her support for radical terrorist attacks.
What has become clear, now, is that the Charlie Hebdo massacre and ensuing violence are not lone-wolf attacks. "This could very well be a little cell," Michel Thooris, secretary-general of France's police union, told Sky News.
With Boumeddiene on the loose and a new terrorist attack possible, France has been placed on high alert. Hundreds of extra troops have been deployed around Paris on Saturday, the Agence-France Presse reports. Security is reportedly at the country's highest level, as more than a million people are expected to attend a solidarity march in the French capital on Sunday.
All in all, about 1,350 troops are currently patrolling the greater Paris area on Saturday, French authorities told AFP. Thousands more will be added to patrol Sunday's march.
In a somber speech on Friday, French President Hollande warned his nation that terrorist threats "weren't over." But instead of cowering in fear, the French president urged citizens to "to defend the values of democracy, freedom and pluralism."
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