Former Far-Right French Activist Among Those Detained in Police Swoop Tied to 2015 Paris Magazine and Kosher Market Attacks
French police have arrested around a dozen people this week in connection with the terrorist attacks in Paris in January 2015 which saw 17 people murdered when Islamist gunmen attacked the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket over a three-day period.
Those in custody are alleged to have supplied weapons to Amedy Coulibaly — the assailant who shot dead four Jews when he stormed the Hyper Cacher supermarket at Porte de Vincennes. They include a far-right activist and arms dealer, Claude Hermant, who has been linked in the past with a shadowy internal security unit run by the National Front party. Hermant is currently serving a prison sentence for a separate arms trafficking offense.
Both Hermant, a former mercenary who fought in the former Yugoslavia and in Africa, and his wife are being questioned over four Tokarev pistols and two Kalashnikov rifles that were found in Coulibaly’s possession. Hermant was first arrested in connection with the attacks in December 2015. At the time, he claimed that he was acting as an informer for the police, saying that they turned a blind eye to his arms-dealing activities in exchange for tip-offs.
“The fact that one of the January terrorists (allegedly) procured part of his equipment from an extreme-right activist more or less covered by the gendarmerie doesn’t look good,” wrote Marianne magazine after Hermant’s first arrest.
The French newspaper La Voix du Nord reported that the weapons used in the attacks were purchased via a company linked with a business partner of Hermant. The weapons are said to have originated in Slovakia and were imported into France through an intermediary in Belgium. Similar weaponry was used by the brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, who launched the assault on Charlie Hebdo.
A member of the National Front for six years, Hermant reportedly left the party after he participated in a failed mercenary mission to the Republic of Congo, where he was jailed and later pardoned. Angered at the perceived betrayal of him by his National Front bosses, he informed the press about the existence of the party’s internal security body, known as the “Department for Protection and Security” (DPS).