Paris Murderers Both Known to Security Services

The two brothers accused of the Paris Massacre were already flagged as terrorists and placed on a U.S no-fly list – and the pair both have links to hate cleric and former Imam of Finsbury Park mosque in North London Abu Hamza.

Cherif and Said Kouachi had come to the attention of both French and US intelligence agencies as potential extremists, with Cherif, the younger, already being convicted on terrorism charges in 2008, the Daily Mail reports.

This was confirmed by the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls who said the security services had files on the men, prior to the fatal shooting.

Cherif was convicted of terrorism charges in 2008 for his links to a network sending jihadis to fight American forces in Iraq.

In addition, a senior U.S official said the elder brother had travelled to Yemen, although it is not known if once there he joined an extremist group linked to Al Qaeda based there.

However, his brother Cherif Kouachi was mentored by Djamel Beghal, an Al-Qaeda terrorist once based at Finsbury Park Mosque in North London whose former Imam was hate cleric Abu Hamza. Hamza himself was imprisoned in Britain for the kidnap of a New Zealand scientist and killing of six other people in Yemen.

And in 1999, his son Kamel, then 17 years old, and step son Mohsin Ghalain were arrested along with eight other men in the country and convicted of planning a terrorist bomb campaign which the prosecution allege Hamza had sent the men to carry out.

As the walls close in around the brothers, who have taken a hostage as they hide out in a warehouse near Charles de Gaulle airport, heavily armed police have been swarming the area and helicopters monitoring the scenes from above.

But French President Francois Hollande called for tolerance towards the Muslim community after a spate of attacks including one on a restaurant near to a mosque where an explosion occurred, dummy grenades thrown at a mosque in Le Mans, western France, and a Muslim family were shot at in the car in the Vaucluse region of southern France.

“France has been struck directly in the heart of its capital, in a place where the spirit of liberty – and thus of resistance – breathed freely,” he said.

French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed that Cherif Jouachi left his ID card behind in the getaway car used in the attack.

He has also appeared on a 2005 French TV documentary on Islamic extremism where he said he had been radicalised in north eastern Paris.

In the programme he said the cleric told him that “holy texts prove the benefits of suicide attacks. It is written in the texts that it’s good to die as a martyr.”

The 32 year old, who was born to Algerian parents in Paris, was jailed for 18 months after he attempted to join al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq.

During the trial his lawyer said that his client had fallen in with the wrong crowd and had only undergone minimal military training including learning how a Kalashnikov rifle works by studying a sketch.

However, the pattern of bullet holes seen in the shooting; in particular in the windscreen of the Police car, shows a marksman with considerable skill and training.

If he was only given limited training and was, as his defence lawyer said, a “reluctant holy warrior, relieved to have been stopped” then in the interim years he and his brother are highly likely to have received further military training and taken their learning seriously.


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