Mehdi Belhoucine

Mehdi Belhoucine is a French jihadist who allegedly was linked to Amedy Coulibaly, the pro-ISIS terrorist who carried out the January 9, 2015 kosher supermarket attack in Paris.“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. According to reports, Belhoucine, along with his brother, Mohamed, facilitated the travel of Coulibaly’s partner and accomplice, Hayat Boumedienne, into Syria.Noémie Bisserbe, Benoît Faucon And Stacy Meichtry, “Underground Terror Network Said to Benefit Would-Be Jihadists in Europe,’ Wall Street Journal, January 29, 2015, https://www.wsj.com/articles/underground-terror-network-said-to-benefit-would-be-jihadists-in-europe-1422577767. On December 16, 2020, Behoucine and 13 others were convicted in France of aiding the 2015 attacks.Valentin Bontemps and Anne-Sophie Lasserre. “French Court Jails 13 Accomplices Over Charlie Hebdo Attack,” International Business Times, December 16, 2020, https://www.ibtimes.com/french-court-jails-13-accomplices-over-charlie-hebdo-attack-3103065.

Belhoucine did not have a criminal record, but was previously questioned and released by French authorities in July 2014 when his brother was on trial for his participation in the “Afghan Sector”—a group that facilitated the travel of foreigners to wage jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan.Boris Thiolay, “Jihadists at bac + 5 level,” L’Express, October 23, 2018, https://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/societe/enquete/djihadistes-niveau-bac-5_2039581.html.

Reports allege that Belhoucine’s brother, Mohamed, met Coulibaly sometime in 2014 and began to provide Coulibaly with jihadist literature and facilitated Coulibaly’s online communication with jihadist sponsors.Boris Thiolay, “Jihadists at bac + 5 level,” L’Express, October 23, 2018, https://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/societe/enquete/djihadistes-niveau-bac-5_2039581.html. On January 9, 2015, Coulibaly opened fire on a Paris kosher supermarket, ultimately killing four people. Coulibaly was later killed in a shootout with police later that day.Ricky Ben-David, “4 dead as French forces storm kosher supermarket,kill gunman; Charlie Hebdo terrorist brothers also killed,” Times of Israel, January 10, 2015, http://www.timesofisrael.com/terror-onslaught-in-paris/.

It was reported that Belhoucine had flown into Istanbul from Madrid a week earlier on January 2, 2015. Six days later, he evaded Turkish authorities and entered Syria with his brother, Mohamed, and Coulibaly’s widow, Boumedienne.“Paris Gunman ‘was with five others in Madrid’,” The Local, January 11, 2015, https://www.thelocal.es/20150117/paris-gunman-coulibaly-was-with-five-others-in-madrid. Once in Syria, Belhoucine reportedly served as Boumedienne’s security detail.Noémie Bisserbe, Benoît Faucon And Stacy Meichtry, “Underground Terror Network Said to Benefit Would-Be Jihadists in Europe,’ Wall Street Journal, January 29, 2015, https://www.wsj.com/articles/underground-terror-network-said-to-benefit-would-be-jihadists-in-europe-1422577767.

Unconfirmed reports claimed that Belhoucine had been killed in Syria in 2016 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; 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 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, including the kosher supermarket attack.“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; Melissa Bell, Eva Tapiero, Pierre Bairin, and Zamira Rahim, “Charlie Hebdo terror trial begins in Paris, five years after deadly attacks,” CNN, September 2, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/02/europe/charlie-hebdo-trial-paris-attacks-intl/index.html. Belhoucine was one of three suspects tried in absentia along with his brother Mohamed Belhoucine and Hayat Boumedienne.“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. All 14 defendants were found guilty on December 16, 2020. Belhoucine was not sentenced because of what the court claimed to be overwhelming evidence that he was dead.Valentin Bontemps and Anne-Sophie Lasserre. “French Court Jails 13 Accomplices Over Charlie Hebdo Attack,” International Business Times, December 16, 2020, https://www.ibtimes.com/french-court-jails-13-accomplices-over-charlie-hebdo-attack-3103065; Roger Cohen, “French Court Finds 14 People Guilty of Aiding Charlie Hebdo and Anti-Semitic Attacks,” New York Times, December 16, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/16/world/europe/charlie-hebdo-trial-guilty.html.

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On October 16, 2020, while shouting “Allahu Akbar,” 18-year-old Abdoulakh Anzorov decapitated history teacher Samuel Paty in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Paty had recently received death threats after showing caricatures of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in class as part of a lesson on freedom of speech.  

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