Turkey’s foreign minister confirmed Monday that Hayat Boumedienne, the romantic partner of French terrorist Amedy Coulibaly, had been in Turkey before last week’s Islamic terror attacks in Paris.
She reportedly fled to Syria on Thursday, shortly before Coulibaly seized hostages in a kosher grocery store.
Boumedienne reportedly entered Turkey on a flight from Madrid on Jan. 2. She is suspected to have helped plan Coulibaly’s siege of the store, and perhaps also Thursday’s shooting of a Paris policewoman.
A video has surfaced of Coulibaly, a French-born citizen of Senegalese descent, pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The video was apparently made after Thursday’s attack, but before the siege on Friday where police killed Coulibaly.
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The extent to which Coulibaly and Boumedienne coordinated their actions with Charlie Hebdo attackers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi remains unclear: as Coulibaly said in his video, the attack on the magazine was “a bit together, a bit separate.”
The Kouachi brothers have been linked to al-Qaida training operations in Yemen, as well as a decade-old French recruiting network for al-Qaida in Iraq. Given the rivalry between al-Qaida and the Islamic State terror group, it is unlikely that last week’s events in Paris were coordinated by the leadership of the two groups.
However, terrorism analyst Clint Watts has pointed out that the “amorphous connections” between the two groups indicate a trend toward a more unpredictable model of global jihad: “a loose social movement” that contains numerous participating and sometimes rival groups. While certain terrorist attacks may be “directed” by organizations’ central leaders, others are likelier to be “networked” by veterans of overseas jihadi battles, or simply “inspired” by foreign terrorist groups.
Turkey’s often-porous border with chaotic Syria, which Boumedienne crossed on Thursday, has been nicknamed “the jihadi trail.” Originating in a Turkish policy meant to support opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, the unenforced flow of fighters into Syria has in recent years become almost exclusively a pipeline for ISIS and other radical organizations.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has denied his country’s complicity in the attacks in France.
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