Hayat Boumeddiene: French forces continue hunt for suspect's widow.

French Forces Continue Hunt for Suspect’s Widow as President Warns More Violence Is Likely

French Forces Continue Hunt for Suspect’s Widow as President Warns More Violence Is Likely

The Slatest
Your News Companion
Jan. 10 2015 8:51 AM

French Forces Continue Hunt for Suspect’s Widow as President Warns More Violence Is Likely

461267764-police-officers-stand-guard-at-the-site-of-the-attack
Police officers stand guard on Saturday at the site of the attack on a kosher market in eastern Paris.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Update, 6 p.m.: More outlets are reporting that Hayat Boumeddiene is likely in Syria. The AP and Le Monde are both reporting from sources that the wife of the man who was killed after taking hostages in a kosher supermarket left France on Jan. 2. The AP hears she arrived in Istanbul, where she stayed for two days before disappearing along the Syrian border. Le Monde says she flew from Madrid to Istanbul on Jan. 2 and then crossed into Syria on Jan. 8.

Update, 12:30 p.m.: Officials believe Hayat Boumeddiene, the widow of the suspect who died Friday when special forces stormed a kosher supermarket, is no longer in France. French police believe she is in Syria, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing an unnamed French government official.

Advertisement

Original post: After the horrifying, fast-moving events of Friday, when police launched two almost simultaneous operations to end two sieges that concluded three days of terror in France, the hunt is far from over Saturday. Police continue searching for the widow of the suspect who died Friday when special forces stormed a kosher supermarket where he was holding at least 15 people hostage, reports the Guardian. She is described as armed and dangerous and was apparently his accomplice in killing a policewoman south of Paris on Thursday.

461226508-pictured-in-this-composite-of-handout-photos-provided_1
Pictured in this composite of handout photos provided by the Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire are Amedy Coulibaly and Hayat Boumeddiene

Photo by Direction centrale de la Police judiciaire via Getty Images

Saying that 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene is Amedy Coulibaly’s widow may be stretching things, though, at least legally speaking. The two married in an Islamic ceremony in 2009, but their union is not recognized by French law, details the Associated Press. Boumeddiene has never been convicted of a crime, but records obtained by AP show she was close to Islamic radicals. In an interview with a journalist during the hostage situation, Coulibaly said he was a member of the Islamic State.

Meanwhile, French President François Hollande held an emergency Cabinet meeting Saturday after warning the public Friday night that more violence was possible. Why he’s saying that exactly is not exactly clear, but there were at least two contributing factors. AFP is reporting that Coulibaly phoned friends from the kosher supermarket and urged them to stage more attacks. He “asked his friends to go and attack various targets, specifically police stations in the Paris suburbs,” the AFP source said.

An al-Qaida connection also seems to be emerging. One of the two brothers suspected of carrying out the attack on Charlie Hebdo spoke to a TV station before his death and said he was financed by al-Qaida in Yemen. “I was sent, me, Chérif Kouachi, by al-Qaida of Yemen. I went over there and it was Anwar al-Awlaki who financed me,” he told BFM-TV by telephone, according to Reuters. Al-Awlaki was killed in September 2011 in a drone strike.* The suspect’s brother, Said, also meet al-Awlaki, according to a Reuters intelligence source. Meanwhile, a member of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula issued a statement to the AP saying the group’s leadership “directed the operations and they have chosen their target carefully.”

As more information is emerging, it seems clear the four suspects knew each other. Coulibaly was a friend of Chérif Kourachi. And Boumeddiene apparently had “constant and sustained” contact with Chérif Kourachi’s girlfriend, reports the New York Times.

A unity rally has been called for Sunday, and a number of Europe’s leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron, said they would attend. The government is encouraging the public to attend. “There needs to be a firm message around the values of the republic and of secularism,” said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. “Tomorrow, France and the French can be proud. Everyone must come tomorrow.” Some appear to have gotten a head start. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Nice, in southeastern France, on Saturday, for example.

461266734-tens-of-thousands-of-people-some-holding-up-signs-that
Tens of thousands of people some holding up signs that read, "Je suis Charlie" march during a rally along the sea front in the Mediterranean city of Nice on Saturday

Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

*Correction, Jan. 12, 2014: This post originally misstated that Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a drone stroke in 2001. He was killed in 2011.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.