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Paris Market Gunman Met French President, Received Autograph in 2009

Amedy Coulibaly, the man who, along with wife Hayat Boumediene, attacked a kosher market in Paris on Friday and killed four, once met French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and requested autographs for his sisters.

According to Time magazine, this detail has surfaced in the public eye thanks to the research of French newspaper Le Parisien, which covered the event at which Coulibaly met the then-French president. Time notes that the event appeared to have taken place on July 15, 2009, and was geared toward working class youth. Coulibaly was there in his capacity as a contract worker at a Coca-Cola factory. He told the newspaper that his sisters wanted him to obtain photographs and autographs for the family.

Time notes also that, in the interview, Coulibaly said that Sarkozy “isn’t really very popular” with young people in France, “but it’s nothing personal.” The comment is notable because Sarkozy’s tenure became known for the President’s stance on assimilating immigrants and those of other cultures. In 2011, Sarkozy said in a televised interview that, amid the influx of immigrants, particularly from Muslim countries, those who wish to relocate to France much speak French and become, to some degree, culturally French. “If you come to France, you agree to base yourself in a single community, the national community. If you don’t accept that, you don’t come to France,” he said, adding that multiculturalism was “a failure.”

Coulibaly, 33, was killed yesterday in a police raid on the market in which he took hostages, demanding that Said and Cherif Kouachi, the authors of the massacre at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, be allowed to remain fugitive. He is believed to have been working with the same terror cell as the Kouachi brothers and that his siege of the market was planned to help the brothers escape. At least one Kouachi brother has been confirmed to have met with Anwar al-Awlaki, the notorious al-Qaeda recruiter eliminated by U.S. forces, and may have trained at a terrorist camp in Yemen. While Coulibaly held up the market, the Kouachis took hostages at a print shop near Charles de Gaulle airport and were killed moments before French officials neutralized Coulibaly.

Hayat Boumediene, 26, remains at large. Boumediene identified herself as Coulibaly’s wife despite becoming so in a ceremony the French government does not recognize, according to the Daily Mail. The British newspaper notes that she became radicalized after meeting and dating Coulibaly in 2010, and has been interviewed in the past by authorities suspecting Coulibaly of terrorist activity.

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