Editor’s note: this article first appeared in today’s edition of the Daily Mail
The Charlie Hebdo killers and the fanatic who died in a gun fight in a Paris kosher grocery store are all part of the same terror gang which flourished in the heart of Paris and whose tentacles spread to hate preachers Abu Hamza, Abu Qatada, and top leaders of Al Qaeda in Yemen and ISIS.
Both Cherif Kaouchi, one of the brothers behind the massacre of 12 at the Paris satirical magazine and Ahmedi Coulibaly, who held up to ten hostage on Friday in a kosher supermarket, are graduates of the Buttes Chaumont gang – named after the Paris park where they were radicalised more than ten years ago.
The revelations that Kaouchi and Coulibaly – both killed on Friday afternoon – were in contact with some of Europe’s most notorious fanatics will only raise more questions of the French authorities’ failure to stop Wednesday’s atrocity at Charlie Hebdo’s office and the carnage that has followed.
Until this week, the Buttes Chaumont gang was a name which appeared to have drifted into relative obscurity.
But in the early 2000s, members of the gang were considered ‘pioneers’ of the foreign jihadi movement, raising money for terrorist attacks and sending fighters to Iraq.
Named after a park in the 19th arrondisement, the members were young and disaffected: Cherif has been described as a ‘loser’ working as a pizza delivery boy during the period into drugs, girls, petty crime and alcohol.
They appear to have first come to the notice of the police during protests against the Iraq war; later, members would be jailed for a range of offences linked to terrorism.
And it was while in prison that both Cherif and Coulabily found a new mentor: Djamel Beghal, a key al Qaeda leader of recruited terrorists when he worshipped at London’s Finsbury Park Mosque.