(New York, NY) – Two years after the horrific and deadly attacks at a satirical magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris, France continues to struggle with persistent and ever more deadly extremist violence.
Armed with assault rifles, submachine guns, pistols, and a rocket launcher, brothers Chérif and Said Kouachi stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, eventually killing 12 people, including the magazine’s editor-in-chief. According to witnesses, the gunmen claimed to be sent by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and announced, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad.” Said Kouachi reportedly traveled to Yemen and met with AQAP terror planner and propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki in the summer of 2011. Despite being killed by a drone strike in September 2011, Awlaki’s online sermons urging violence against the West continue to inspire terror attacks in the U.S. and Europe.
On the day of the Charlie Hebdo attack, associate Amedy Coulibaly began a coordinated rampage by detonating a car bomb in the heavily Jewish Villejuif suburb of Paris and shooting and wounding a jogger. The next day, Coulibaly shot and killed a police officer in southern Paris. On January 9, armed with two AK 47 rifles, two pistols, a knife, and 20 sticks of dynamite, he stormed the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in eastern Paris, where he killed four people and took many others hostage. Coulibaly threatened to kill the remaining hostages if police attempted to capture the Kouachi brothers, who were hiding at a printing shop near the town of Dammartin. Police simultaneously stormed both locations at about 6 p.m., killing all three gunmen and freeing the hostages. Coulibaly’s wife, Hayat Boumeddiene, left France about a week before the attacks and is assumed to be living in ISIS controlled territory.
The attack on Charlie Hebdo was the deadliest terror attack in France in more than 50 years, but was sadly eclipsed in November 2015 by coordinated attacks carried out across Paris that killed 130 people.
To view the CEP report, France: Extremism and Counter-Extremism, please click here.