Who Is Hayat Boumeddiene? The Paris Terrorist's Girlfriend Is "Armed And Dangerous," And Still Missing
Though her exact role in the terrorist attacks in Paris is still unclear, authorities have called Hayat Boumeddiene an "armed and dangerous" suspect. Boumeddiene is the partner of Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman suspected of taking siege of a kosher supermarket on Friday — and she may have been an accomplice when Coulibaly shot a female police officer on Thursday. (Other conflicting reports have claimed that Boumeddiene fled France before the shootings even took place.) While police continue to search for the mysterious woman linked to Paris's worst terrorist attacks in more than 50 years, bits of information continue to emerge to paint a troubled woman who was an easy target for radicalization.
Law enforcement were able to interrogate the wives of the Kouachi brothers, the Charlie Hebdo gunmen, last week, but were unable to track down Boumeddiene. However, there is a clear link between all parties. Authorities found hundreds of phone calls between Boumeddiene and Izzana Hamyd, wife of Cherif Kouachi, on mobile records, 500 of which were made last year. And in a video released on Sunday, the now-deceased Coulibaly is shown confirming that he coordinated his attack with the Kouachi brothers.
But the video suggests a much more significant link — that the three gunmen had ties to both ISIS and Al Qaeda.
Boumeddiene is the missing piece of the puzzle, but her reported movements earlier this month could offer a clue. A Turkish intelligence official claims that a woman who closely resembles the distributed photo of Boumeddiene flew to Istanbul on January 2. Turkish authorities say that she then made her way to the Turkish city of Sanliurfa, which lies near the Syrian border, on January 4. Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, confirmed on Monday that Boumeddiene crossed into Syria on January 8, the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack. Boumeddiene is likely in an ISIS-controlled area near the Turkish border, which substantiates the theory that the Paris gunmen weren't lone wolves at all.As the hunt for France's most wanted fugitive continues, here's what we know about Boumeddiene so far.
The 26-year-old is believed to be of Algerian descent, but changed her name to sound more French. According to the Daily Mail, Boumeddiene grew up in a big family but had a troubled childhood. She was one of seven children, and after their mother died when she was 6, her elder siblings left home and she was put into foster care. Boumeddiene is estranged from her father, who reportedly was shocked to hear about his daughter's potential involvement in the terrorist attacks.
Before Boumeddiene met Coulibaly, she had worked as a cashier, but after meeting him she quit her job and started wearing a veil in 2009. Authorities believe that it was Coulibaly who radicalized her. After Coulibaly served four years in prison for armed robbery, the couple married in a religious ceremony, but because they never married in a civil ceremony, their union is not legally recognized in France.
Drawn to Extremism
Coulibaly and Boumeddiene have a history with law enforcement. In 2010, she was interviewed by the police about Coulibaly's involvement with Islamic extremists. According to the Daily Mail, she told them that she was inspired by her husband to "read a lot of books on religion and because of this, I came to ask questions on religion." She also reportedly said:
When I saw the massacre of the innocents in Palestine, in Iraq, in Chetchna, in Afghanistan or anywhere the Americans sent their bombers, all that… well, who are the terrorists?
In photos obtained by the Daily Mail, Boumeddiene is shown aiming a crossbow. When officers asked why she and Coulibaly visited British-based extremist Djamel Beghal at the same time as Cherif Kouachi, she answered, "We went there for crossbow practice."
Images: Getty Images (3)