AFP/Youssef Boudlal/Reuters/Amanda Macias/Business Insider
France’s most-wanted woman has fled to Syria by traveling through Turkey, police sources confirmed to Le Figaro on Saturday. Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, is the suspected female accomplice of three Islamists behind the recent attacks in Paris last week.
Citing intelligence sources, Le Monde and The Wall Street Journal and other outlets are reporting Boumeddiene crossed the border to Spain and flew from Madrid to Istanbul where she crossed into Syria.
Boumeddiene is believed to be the partner of Amedy Coulibaly, who is accused in the murder of a policewoman in France on Thursday. This occurred a day after Cherif and Said Kouachi massacred 12 people at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The mugshot provided by the police shows a sleepy-eyed young woman, her face and brown hair showing, whom they had questioned in 2010 about Coulibaly. The police notice, however, warns that she is considered “armed and dangerous.”
Police also suspect she might have had a hand in Coulibaly’s supermarket hostage-taking, though she was not identified among the dead or wounded. Coulibaly, 32, was a longtime criminal who apparently became a radical Muslim during one of his frequent stints in prison.
He claimed in a brief phone call to French television station BFMTV midway through the supermarket siege that he belonged to the Islamic State jihadist group.
Coulibaly also said he had coordinated his hostage-taking with the other two gunmen, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, who claimed separately to BFMTV that they belonged to another fundamentalist group, Al Qaeda in Yemen.
‘Married’ In 2009
Cherif Kouachi, a 32-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent, was said to have pushed Coulibaly, also a French citizen, toward extreme Islam while the two were in prison together.
There was “constant and sustained” communication between Boumeddiene and the girlfriend of Cherif Kouachi, according to Paris’s chief prosecutor François Molins, who said “more than 500 calls” were made between the two women in 2014.
Investigators are going through phone records and wiretaps, and other material seized during searches, to determine the extent of the complicity and whether anyone else who might be connected to the gunmen.
But the focus right now is on Boumeddiene.
Coulibaly moved back in with her in May last year when he was released from his last period behind bars.
One of seven children to a mother who died when she was six, Boumeddiene was put into foster care with her young siblings because her father, a delivery man, was unable to take care of them.
She had a religious ceremony in 2009 to “marry” Coulibaly, though such unions are not recognised in France unless preceded by a civil ceremony conducted by local officials, and the couple lived in a modest apartment in the poor suburb south of Paris.
Boumeddiene accompanied Coulibaly several times to a forest in central southern France to fire a crossbow.Le Monde published several photos of the couple holding up the weapon, with Boumeddiene wearing her niqab.
The newspaper Le Parisien said she lost her job as a cashier because she insisted on wearing the top-to-toe Islamic wear known as a niqab.
Her whereabouts are not known, but thousands of police have been deployed to search for her