Police were today interrogating the wives of the Kouachi brothers responsible for the Charlie Hebdo massacre in a bid to track France’s most wanted woman – Hayat Boumeddiene.
Boumeddiene, described as armed and dangerous, has been on the run since the slaying of rookie policewoman, Clarissa Jean-Phillipe, by her terrorist husband Amedy Coulibaly.
Hundreds of phone calls between Boumeddiene and Izzana Hamyd, wife of Cherif Kouachi, have shown up on mobile records. Five hundred in all were made last year.
Also being held is the wife or girlfriend of the older Kouachi brother, Said.
French Algerian Boumeddiene is now not thought to have been with Coulibaly at any time in the Kosher Supermarket and to have fled immediately after the killing.
Photographs of the 'wife' of the Kosher supermarket hostage killer reveal how she was radicalised by the man she would go on to marry.
Her husband Amedy Coulibaly is dead, one of the three terrorists who brought France to a halt in 48 hours of bloodshed.
Now, 26-year-old Boumeddiene is on the run and is believed to be 'armed and dangerous'.
Coulibaly died in a hail of bullets along with four hostages in the storming of the Jewish supermarket.
The couple 'married' in a religious ceremony after Boumedienne, who was never seen without her veil, waited four years for him to come out of jail following his conviction for armed robbery.
The couple were never married in a civil ceremony – the only form of marriage legally accepted in France.
While Coulibaly had a well documented track record, details of Boumeddiene troubled childhood are only now emerging.
Like her husband she was born into a large family, seven children, in 1988 but when she was just six years old, her mother died.
The eldest children left home, according to reports in Le Parisien, and social workers took over. It’s suggested that Boumeddiene may have been put into care.
Estranged from her father, she met him briefly once more and introduced him to Coulibaly.
But all may not have been as settled as the young woman, radicalized by her husband, thought.
It is understood he had made it clear he wanted to take a second wife according to other reports.
Today, questioned by police at his home in Nanterre, Boumeddiene’s father is said to be shocked and unable to believe that his daughter was involved with the terrorist cell.
But it’s becoming clear that the one-time cashier was radicalized after meeting the man she would marry.
She is from an Algerian background and altered her surname to ‘make it sound more French', according to an investigating source.
She told police who interviewed her as part of their inquiries into Coulibaly’s murky dealings with Islamic extremists that she had walked away from a low-paid job as a cashier in the Juvisy suburb of Paris in 2009 and taken the veil. She ‘devoted herself’ to Coulibaly.
Interrogated by police in 2010, Boumeddiene said she was inspired by her husband and the radicals she lived with to ‘read a lot of books on religion and because of this, I came to ask questions on religion.’
‘When I saw the massacre of the innocents in Palestine, in Iraq, in Chetchna, in Afghanistan or anywhere the Americans sent their bombers, all that…well, who are the terrorists?'
She added that when Americans killed innocents, it was the right of men to defend their women and children.
Always cool and composed, Boumeddiene never wavered under police cross examination.
When told that they knew she and Coulbaly had visited Beghal at the same time as Cherif Kouachi and two other convicted terrorists, jihadi recruiter Ahmed Laidouni, and Farid Melouk of GIA, she replied: 'We went there for crossbow practice.’
The couple lived in nearby Bagneux, where they were known as devoutly religious couple, despite Coulibay’s regular run-ins with the law.
To neighbours the pair were quiet, respectful and normal and had even gone on a holiday to Malaysia together.
But a month ago they simply disappeared from their suburban house until flashed across the world’s screens today.
Coulibaly murdered at least four hostages at the Kosher supermarket in Paris, according to Reuters news agency.
He is believed to be part of an Al Qaeda terror cell linked to a British-based jihadi extremist, Djamel Beghal.
The 50-year-old preacher, who recruited terrorists while worshipping at London's Finsbury Park mosque, met Cherif Kouachi while in prison in Paris.
Coulibaly has a long history of both petty and serious crimes. The only boy born in a family of ten in Juvisy, Essonne, he first came to police attention as a 17-year-old delinquent.
Convictions for theft and drug offences followed. In September 2002 in Orleans, Loiret, he was arrested for the armed robbery of a bank.
It's believed he became involved with the younger of the Kouachi brothers, Cherif, when he was part of a jihadist recruitment ring in Paris that sent fighters to join the conflict in Iraq. Kouachi was subsequently sentenced to three years in prison.
It is not known whether Boumeddiene was in the Kosher store with Coulibaly.
The two sieges by suspected Islamic terrorists played out at the same time, as fears grew that they would be looking to cause another bloodbath.
Coulibaly is believed to be the one responsible for shooting a policewoman dead in south Paris on Thursday.
The revelation led police to link it to the murder of 12 people around the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine on Wednesday.
'He was in the same Buttes Chaumount cell as the Kouachi brothers,' said a source close to the investigation.
'He was friends of both of them.'
Both Said Kouachi, 34, and his brother, Cherif Kouachi, 32 – who have been killed in a building north of Paris – were first arrested in 2005
They were suspected members of the Buttes Chaumont – a group operating out of the 19th arrondissement of Paris and sending terrorist fighters to Iraq.
Cherif was convicted in 2008 to three years in prison, with 18 months suspended, for his association with the underground organisation.
He had wanted to fly to Iraq via Syria, and was found with a manual for a Kalashnikov – the automatic weapon used in Wednesday's attack.
Said was freed after questioning by police, but – like his brother – was known to have been radicalized after the Iraq War of 2003, when Anglo-American forces deposed Saddam Hussein.
Both brothers were said to be infuriated by the killing of Muslims by western soldiers and war planes.
Vincent Olliviers, Cherif's lawyer at the time, described him as initially being an 'apprentice loser - a delivery boy in a cap who smoked hashish and delivered pizzas to buy his drugs.
But Mr Ollivier said the 'clueless kid who did not know what to do with his life met people who gave him the feeling of being important'.
Belkacem was a leading members of the GIA, or Armed Islamic Army – an Algerian terror outfit responsible for numerous atrocities.
The Kouachi brothers, who are orphans, were radicalised by an Iman operating in northern Paris.
They were raised in foster care in Rennes, in western France, with Cherif training as a fitness instructor before moving to Paris.
They lived in the 19th arrondissement and were radicalized by Farid Benyettou, a janitor-turned-preacher who gave sermons calling for jihad in Iraq and suicide bombings.
The Kouachis share similar backgrounds to Mohammed Merah, the 23-year-old French Algerian responsible for murdering seven people, including four Jews and three Muslim soldiers, in the Toulouse area in 2012.
Merah, who was himself shot dead by police, had also been left to operate as a terrorist in France, despite the authorities knowing he had trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
By Fidelma Cook, Peter Allen and Jenny Stanton
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.