Fugitive Wife of Islamist Killer Who Carried Out Massacre at Paris Kosher Supermarket Still at Large on Eve of Landmark Terror Trial in France
As France prepares for Wednesday’s opening of the landmark trial of the 14 suspects in the January 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, three of those charged will not be in the courtroom.
Two are presumed dead, while the third, Hayat Boumeddienne, remains on the run, according to French intelligence.
The trial will begin more than five years after three days of Islamist terrorist mayhem in the French capital left 16 civilians dead — 12 of them at the headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 and another four at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris on Jan. 9.
Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, the two armed brothers who stormed the Charlie Hebdo offices, and their friend Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who seized the Hyper Cacher market in the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood two days later, were all killed by police during the attacks.
However, absent from the trial will be the terror suspect dubbed “France’s most-wanted woman” — Hayat Boumeddienne, Coulibaly’s wife, who flew to Turkey a few days prior to the attacks before crossing into Syrian territory controlled at that time by the ISIS terrorist organization.
The 32-year-old Boumeddiene surfaced less than a month after the attacks when she gave an interview to an ISIS propaganda outlet.
Asked about her husband — who murdered a policewoman followed by four Jewish shoppers at the Hyper Cacher — she said that Coulibaly had dreamed of fighting for the so-called “caliphate” created by ISIS.
“His heart burned with the desire to join his brothers and fight the enemies of Allah on the caliphate’s land,” Boumeddiene said. “His eyes gleamed each time he saw [ISIS] videos and he would say, ‘Don’t show me that,’ because he wanted to leave immediately.”
Boumeddiene is alleged to have played a central role in planning both attacks. Traces of her DNA were found on weapons being stored by Coulibaly at a house near Paris, while prosecutors also discovered that she had made more than 500 phone calls to Izzana Hamyd, the wife of Chérif Kouachi.
Also absent from the trial are the brothers Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine, who followed Boumeddiene to Syria. Mohamed Belhoucine was alleged to have been Coulibaly’s mentor and the author an “oath of allegiance” to ISIS that was adopted by the impromptu terrorist cell.
While the Belhoucine brothers are believed to have been killed in Syria in 2016, the most recent reports suggest that Hayat Boumeddiene is still alive.
Boumeddiene was reportedly last seen in October 2019 at the Al Hol refugee camp after being taken captive by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The unidentified woman who spotted her told French intelligence that Boumeddiene escaped undetected from Al Hol soon after, in the company of other female jihadis.
The remaining defendants who will be present in the courtroom on Wednesday include Ali Riza Polat 35, a French citizen of Turkish origin, who has been described as Coulibaly’s “right-hand man,” and Willy Prévost, who helped Coulibaly obtain the vehicle he drove to the Hyper Cacher market.
The other defendants ‐‐ Nezar Mickaël Pastor Alwatik, Amar Ramdani, Saïd Makhlouf, Mohamed-Amine Fares, Michel Catino, Abdelaziz Abbad, Miguel Martinez and Metin Karasular ‐‐ are accused of providing varying degrees of support to the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly.
The trial will run until Nov. 10.