Hayat Boumedienne

Hayat Boumedienne is the widow of Frenchman Amedy Coulibaly, the pro-ISIS terrorist who carried out the January 9, 2015, kosher supermarket attack in Paris, killing four people.Daniel Politi, “France’s Most Wanted: Who Is Hayat Boumeddiene?” Slate, January 10, 2015, http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/01/10/france_s_most_wanted_who_is_hayat_boumeddiene.html. According to French authorities, one week before the attack, Boumedienne fled from Spain to Istanbul, Turkey, where she stayed for a few days before crossing into Syria to purportedly join ISIS.Emily Thomas, “Who is Hayat Boumeddiene?” BBC News, January 12, 2015, http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/30760975/who-is-hayat-boumeddiene. Both Boumedienne and Coulibaly were alleged associates of French brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attacks on January 7, 2015.Daniel Politi, “France’s Most Wanted: Who Is Hayat Boumeddiene?” Slate, January 10, 2015, http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/01/10/france_s_most_wanted_who_is_hayat_boumeddiene.html. In December 2020, Boumedienne and 13 others were convicted in France for aiding the 2015 attacks.Tangi Salaün, “French court finds accomplices to Charlie Hebdo attackers guilty,” Reuters, December 16, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-charliehebdo-trial/french-court-finds-accomplices-to-charlie-hebdo-attackers-guilty-idUSKBN28Q27H?il=0.

Boumedienne was one of seven children raised by a father who struggled to raise the family on his own.“Increasing Number Of Western Women Flee To Syria,” NPR, January 14, 2015, https://www.npr.org/2015/01/14/377122767/increasing-number-of-western-women-flee-to-syria. Boumedienne met Coulibaly in 2009 and married him in a conservative Islamic ceremony that same year.“The monstrous fate of an ordinary couple,” Paris Match, January 30, 2015, https://www.parismatch.com/Actu/Societe/Hayat-Boumeddiene-et-Amedy-Coulibaly-Le-destin-monstrueux-d-un-couple-ordinaire-700346. That same year, Coulibaly expressed increased interest in Islam and Boumedienne followed suit.“The monstrous fate of an ordinary couple,” Paris Match, January 30, 2015, https://www.parismatch.com/Actu/Societe/Hayat-Boumeddiene-et-Amedy-Coulibaly-Le-destin-monstrueux-d-un-couple-ordinaire-700346. It is alleged that she began wearing the niqab following her marriage to Coulibaly.“Increasing Number Of Western Women Flee To Syria,” NPR, January 14, 2015, https://www.npr.org/2015/01/14/377122767/increasing-number-of-western-women-flee-to-syria. Boumedienne married Coulibaly in 2009 in an Islamic ceremony that is not legally recognized in France.Daniel Politi, “France’s Most Wanted: Who Is Hayat Boumeddiene?” Slate, January 10, 2015, http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/01/10/france_s_most_wanted_who_is_hayat_boumeddiene.html.

During an interview with police in 2010, Boumedienne admitted to officials that she, Coulibaly, and the Kouachi brothers had visited notorious al-Qaeda recruiter Djamel Beghal that year at his home in Murat, France, “for crossbow practice.”Bill Gardner and Ben Farmer, “Paris shootings: France’s most wanted woman Hayat Boumeddiene has ‘escaped to Syria’,” Telegraph (London), January 10, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11337944/Paris-shootings-Frances-most-wanted-woman-Hayat-Boumeddiene-has-escaped-to-Syria.html. After the Charlie Hebdo and supermarket attacks in January 2015, French investigators again linked Boumedienne and Coulibaly to the Kouachi brothers after discovering over 500 phone calls between Boumedienne and Cherif Kouachi’s wife throughout 2014.Emily Thomas, “Who is Hayat Boumeddiene?” BBC News, January 12, 2015, http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/30760975/who-is-hayat-boumeddiene. Authorities suspect Boumedienne played a crucial role in facilitating communication between Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers.Emma Graham-Harrison, “Hayat Boumeddiene: France’s most wanted person after Paris terror attacks,” Guardian (London), January 10, 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/10/hayat-boumeddiene-paris-terror-amedy-coulibaly-france. According to French authorities, both Boumedienne and the Kouachis were allegedly involved with Buttes Charmont, an organization that funnels foreign fighters to Iraq to combat Americans.Brian Levin, “Terrorists’ Web of Hate Extends Far Beyond France,” Huffington Post, March 12, 2015, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/terrorists-web-of-hate-ex_b_6449652.

Following the January 9, 2015, Hyper Cacher attack, French officials attempted to track Boumedienne’s route into Syria. Boumedienne was not in Paris during the attacks as she had previously fled from Madrid to Turkey on January 2, 2015, before making her way to Syria six days later.Holly Williams, “How the female terror suspect fled Europe unnoticed,” CBS News, January 12, 2015, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-the-female-terror-suspect-fled-europe-unnoticed/. According to video surveillance from an Istanbul airport, Boumedienne was accompanied by Medhi Belhoucine, a French citizen who is also linked to the 2015 Paris attacks. Boumedienne managed to evade Turkish authorities and crossed the Syrian border the same day that Coulibaly shot and killed a French policewoman on January 8, 2015.Holly Williams, “How the female terror suspect fled Europe unnoticed,” CBS News, January 12, 2015, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-the-female-terror-suspect-fled-europe-unnoticed/.

In February 2015, ISIS’s online English magazine Dabiq included an interview the group claimed was with Boumedienne, suggesting that she had left Europe and was living in ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq or Syria.Kim Willsher, “Islamic State magazine interviews Hayat Boumeddiene,” Guardian (London), February 12, 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/12/islamic-state-magazine-interviews-hayat-boumeddiene. In the interview, Boumedienne called upon Muslim women to “be strong supporters behind their husbands, brothers, fathers and sons” in order to “make things easy for them.”Kim Willsher, “Islamic State magazine interviews Hayat Boumeddiene,” Guardian (London), February 12, 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/12/islamic-state-magazine-interviews-hayat-boumeddiene. It was later alleged that Boumedienne had “started a new life” in Syria and that she had remarried.Elizabeth Llorente, “Two prominent French jihadis reported killed in Syria,” Fox News, March 6, 2019, https://www.foxnews.com/world/prominent-french-jihadis-reported-killed-in-syria.

French officials have classified Boumedienne as a “crucial witness” to the attacks due to her five-year marriage to Coulibaly. Beyond that, her exact role in the attacks is unknown, and authorities are unsure what role she has played for ISIS since her purported interview.Ben Farmer and Gregory Walton, “Paris Shooter’s Girlfriend Told Police That People Have The Right To ‘Take Up Arms Against The Oppresors,” Business Insider, January 12, 2015, http://www.businessinsider.com/hayat-boumeddiene-interviewed-by-police-in-2010-2015-1.

Unconfirmed reports claimed that Boumedienne had been killed in Syria following a series of drone strikes carried out by coalition forces in the region.“France Pushes Back Charlie Hebdo Attack Trial To September,” Barron’s, March 31, 2020, https://www.barrons.com/news/france-pushes-back-charlie-hebdo-attack-trial-to-september-01585657804. In October 2019, Boumedienne was reportedly seen in the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria after being captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces.Sarah Chemla, “France’s ‘most-wanted woman’ absent from 2015 Paris attacks trial,” Jerusalem Post, September 2, 2020, https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/antisemitism/frances-most-wanted-woman-absent-from-2015-paris-attacks-trial-640783. On May 20, 2020, the Center for the Analysis of Terrorism reported that Boumedienne had escaped from either the Kurdish-controlled camps of al-Hol or Ain-Issa in northern Syria.“Wife of Hyper Cacher terrorist escapes from jihadist prison in Syria — monitor,” Times of Israel, May 20, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/wife-of-hyper-cacher-terrorist-escapes-from-jihadist-prison-in-syria-monitor/.

On September 2, 2020, France’s anti-terrorism prosecutors began the trials of 14 people accused of aiding the 2015 terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and other Paris targets. Boumedienne was one of three suspects to be tried in absentia along with Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine.“France Pushes Back Charlie Hebdo Attack Trial To September,” Barron’s, March 31, 2020, https://www.barrons.com/news/france-pushes-back-charlie-hebdo-attack-trial-to-september-01585657804. On December 16, 2020, a French court found Boumedienne guilty of financing terrorism and belonging to a criminal terrorist network. She was sentenced in absentia to 30 years in prison. Boumedienne’s whereabouts remain unknown.Tangi Salaün, “French court finds accomplices to Charlie Hebdo attackers guilty,” Reuters, December 16, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-charliehebdo-trial/french-court-finds-accomplices-to-charlie-hebdo-attackers-guilty-idUSKBN28Q27H?il=0.

 
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