The wife of a man who mentored the Kouachi brothers is living on state benefits in Leicester in the UK after deciding France was too strict on Muslims.
Sylvie Beghal, whose husband Djamel is suspected of training the men who attacked satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, lives rent-free in a four bedroom house after she left France in search of a more “Islamic environment”, the Telegraph reports.
Djamel is a former lieutenant of hate preacher Abu Hamza, who was yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment for terror offences in the US. He recruited another Cherif Kouachi while they were both in prison serving sentences for other terror offences. The two men remained close and were photographed in 2010 by French police playing football with other convicted terrorists.
Beghal also mentored Amedy Coulbaly and Hayat Boumeddiene, who held up a Kosher store yesterday, killing four hostages a day after killing a police woman.
Although he was excluded from the UK on national security grounds in 2009, his family have been allowed to stay.
Sylvie Beghal lives with her four children in the city of Leicester. Her landlord told the Telegraph: “She doesn’t have a job. She doesn’t even leave the house much.” If she claims the full housing benefit to which she would be entitled, she would receive more than £10,000 a year. As she has two children under 18, she would also be entitled to around £1,500 in child benefit.
If you add housing benefits to this, Mrs Beghal may have cost the British taxpayer more than £150,000 since she moved to the UK.
Mr and Mrs Beghal married in 1990 in France, before moving to Leicester in 1997. Djamel made sandwiches for a living before starting a computer course. They then moved to Afghanistan, then under control of the Taliban, in 2000, as they “wanted to live in a Muslim country”.
Djamel was arrested at Dubai airport in 2001 and was found to have organised a terror cell while living in Leicester. He was discovered to have links with Algerian group GSPC and Takfir Wal Hirja, a group founded by Bin Laden’s deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.
In a UK court case, Beghal was described as being so extreme that even Osama bin Laden thought him to be “beyond the pale”.
Mrs Beghal maintains her husband’s innocence, however. She also said that she decided to move back to Leicester “mainly for religious reasons”.
“I wanted to educate my children surrounded by Muslim brothers and sisters. It wasn’t really possible [in France].
“I wanted help for my children. I wanted them to live in an Islamic environment. It is not possible in France since we cannot really live in community.
“Most of all, I was asked to remove my headscarf to work. For me, it was unimaginable. I was not ready to make that kind of compromise.”
Speaking yesterday, she said her husband had nothing to do with the Paris shootings.
“Once again my husband is punished for something he didn’t do. He has been placed in solitary confinement after all the false media coverage. He has nothing to do with the attack against Charlie Hebdo.
“The media is repeating false allegations which have been made against him for 14 years now. Our family too is suffering. We just want to be left alone and lead a peaceful life.”