Arrest May Shed Light on Charlie Hebdo, Supermarket Killings

(New York, NY) – The arrest of Peter Cherif, one of France’s most-wanted terrorist suspects, may shed light on the planning of the deadly attacks at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and at a kosher supermarket four years ago, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) said today.  

Cherif, a member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was arrested in December in Djibouti. He had been on the run since 2011 when he escaped French custody in Syria. French authorities say Cherif was known to be good friends with brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, who stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, eventually killing 12 people. The gunmen claimed to be sent by AQAP. On the same day, Amedy Coulibaly, also friends with the Kouachi brothers, began a two-day rampage that ended at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in eastern Paris, where he eventually killed four people and took many others hostage. Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers were killed in separate shootouts with police on January 9.

France’s defense minister, Florence Parly, said Cherif played an “important role in organizing” the Charlie Hebdo attack. While the extent of his role remains unknown, French intelligence services said Cherif was in regular contact with the Kouachi brothers before the Charlie Hebdo attack and invited them to train with AQAP in Yemen.

Since the 2015 Paris killings, more than 20 major terrorist attacks have been carried out in the U.K., Germany, Sweden, Spain, France, Australia, and United States, many directly linked to violence-inspiring radical propaganda readily available on the Internet and social media platforms.  

To view the CEP report France: Extremism and Counter-Extremism, please click here.

To learn more about Peter Cherif, please click here.

To learn more about Chérif Kouachi, please click here.

To learn more about Saïd Kouachi, please click here.

To learn more about Amedy Coulibaly, please click here.


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On February 26, 2015, a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a market in Biu, Nigeria, killing 19 people and injuring 20 others. A second attempted-suicide bomber was caught and beaten by a crowd before he was able to carry out his attack.

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