TIME France

Paris Terror Attack Suspects Killed After Police Standoffs

Twin raids bring to an end hostage situations in an industrial estate and a Kosher grocery

Three terror suspects and four hostages were killed in France on Friday, as police brought to an end two separate hostage incidents relating to the deadly terror attacks on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

In an industrial estate outside Paris, police killed the two brothers who allegedly mounted Wednesday’s devastating assault that killed 12 people and set off the biggest manhunt in modern French history.

Just a 15-minute drive away, SWAT teams killed another gunman who had holed up all afternoon in a kosher supermarket in a city suburb with several hostages. The siege left five dead in total, but the gunman’s alleged co-conspirator remained on the run Friday night, having escaped as police stormed the store.

Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, 34 and 32, the two French-born brothers who authorities say stormed Charlie Hebdo with Kalashnikovs and then fled in a stolen vehicle, holed up in a commercial building in the small town of Dammartin-en-Goèle early on Friday morning, holding one hostage inside. They were killed following a long standoff with police.

It now appears that the attack on Charlie Hebdo may have been plotted by an al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen. The Kouachis telephoned a French news channel, BFM Television, during the siege to tell them the attack had been ordered by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Later on Friday, an AQAP member claimed the group had directed the attack “as revenge for the honor” of the Prophet Muhammad, the AP reports.

As SWAT teams closed in on the Kouachis, a separate crisis unfolded in the Porte de Vincennes area, the easternmost edge of Paris. Inside the Hyper-Casher kosher supermarket, a gunman held several people hostage, and finally died in a blaze of gunfire as crack anti-terror forces stormed the building at sundown. The French ambassador to the U.S., Gerard Araud, confirmed the news in a tweet:

That gunman, police said, was Amedy Coulibaly, 32, the same man believed to have opened fire on police officers in the southern Paris suburb of Montrouge on Thursday morning, after they stopped their car, and then fled the scene with girlfriend Hayat Boumedienne, 26. One of the officers, a woman, died of her injuries about two hours after the shooting.

Coulibaly also contacted BFM as he was under siege to say he had been acting on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), but the extremist group—which is not allied with al-Qaeda—has not claimed to have engineered that attack.

At least 10 hostages escaped, according to a Alliance Police Union spokesman, CNN reports—but Boumedienne is believed to have escaped from the store in the confusion as hostages fled the building. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed that four hostages had died, and four more injured.

French President François Hollande urged his citizens to bind together against “fanatics who have nothing to do with the Muslim religion” in a speech on Friday.

“This solidarity is something that we have to show with all our capacity. We are a free people, we will not give in to any pressures or any fears,” he said. “I assure you that we will come out even stronger from this hardship.”

Speaking at an event in Tennessee, President Barack Obama said his aides had been in close contact with their French counterparts Friday as the hostage situations unfolded. “The United States stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow,” he said. “We grieve with you. … We grieve with you, we fight alongside you to uphold our values, the values that we share, universal values that bind us together as friends and as allies.

“In the streets of Paris, the world has seen once again what terrorists stand for,” Obama added. “They have nothing to offer but hatred and human suffering.”

While Wednesday’s massacre and Thursday’s shooting at first appeared unconnected, French Prime Minister Manual Valls told reporters on Friday that the two were indeed linked, and that the Kouachi brothers seemed to have contact with Coulibaly.

French officials said on Thursday night that the older Kouachi brother, Saïd, had traveled to Yemen in 2011 for weapons training. Police have tracked Chérif, the younger brother, for years, after arresting him in 2004 while he tried to travel to Syria for military training, in order to move on to Iraq to fight U.S. troops as part of al-Qaeda’s franchise there.

French intelligence sources will now need to piece together the details—including the question as to how the Kouachis were able to pull off France’s worst terrorist attack in generations, against Charlie Hebdo‘s office, which had received multiple threats against it over the past few years.

A White House spokesperson said President Barack Obama had been kept updated on the situation, with national security agencies and White House officials in touch with their French counterparts on a “minute by minute” basis.

-Additional reporting by Zeke J Miller / Washington

Read next: Watch Parisians Vow To Stand Strong Against Terror Threat

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TIME France

Meet the Women the Paris Gunmen Spared

Staff arrive to attend an editorial meeting of French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo and Liberation, Jan. 9, 2015 in Paris.
Bertrand Guay—AFP/Getty Images Staff arrive to attend an editorial meeting of French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo and Liberation, Jan. 9, 2015 in Paris.

They said they don't kill women

Like most buildings in Paris, the one that houses Paris’s satirical paper Charlie Hebdo in the city’s 11th district has a security keypad outside, which requires residents to tap in a code before the front door clicks open. That might have been the sole obstacle the masked gunmen faced when they sprang from their car on Wednesday just before midday in the opening seconds of France’s biggest terror attack in generations. Their problem was solved by the arrival at that very moment of one of the paper’s cartoonists.

Corinne Rey, known by her pen name “Coco”, was racing to attend the weekly editorial meeting. She had just picked up her small daughter from a pre-school center and brought her to the office. “I had gone to fetch my daughter at day-care, and when I arrived at the door of the building of the paper two men, hooded and armed, brutally threatened us,” she said in an interview with the French newspaper L’Humanité, saying they demanded to know the door code.

Rey told police the men — the prime suspects are brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, 34 and 32 — spoke perfect French and said they were from al Qaeda. “They wanted to enter, to go upstairs,” she said.

Once inside the building, they killed the security guard in the lobby, before racing upstairs, where they opened fire on the staff members. “They shot [cartoonist Wolinski, Cabu,” she told L’Humanité, naming renowned French cartoonists Georges Wolinksi and Jean Cabut, who were among eight journalists killed in Wednesday’s attack.

There seems to be one reason Rey and her daughter survived the massacre: They were female.

In a separate interview with Radio France Internationale, Sigolène Vinson, a reporter for Charlie Hebdo, said she had crawled along a passage to escape the gunfire, when one of the gunmen spotted her and aimed his weapon at her, before opting not to pull the trigger. “I’m not killing you because you are a woman and we don’t kill women but you have to convert to Islam, read the Qu’ran and wear a veil,” she said.

That detail became highly relevant on Friday, when the suspects took a woman hostage in a commercial building just 25 miles northeast of Paris. The brothers were killed after a prolonged standoff with police; their hostage reportedly escaped the assault.

TIME France

Gunmen Take Hostages in 2 Standoffs With French Police

Second incident began when gunman opened fire in a kosher supermarket

French police were negotiating Friday with two sets of gunmen who are believed to have taken hostages in two separate but linked incidents two days after the deadly terrorist attack in Paris. The sounds of gunshots and loud explosions at both sites could be heard on local television broadcasts Friday evening.

Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, the prime suspects in the killing of 12 people at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, were located by police northeast of Paris and then chased to a factory on an industrial estate where they are believed to have taken one hostage. French officials said they had made contact with the brothers who told them that they want to die as martyrs.

As that siege unfolded, a man believed to be Amedy Coulibaly, 32, a suspect in the fatal shooting of a policewoman on Wednesday, attacked customers at a kosher supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes in the east of Paris. Local media said several were injured and at least two killed in the shooting before Coulibaly took refuge in the supermarket with at least five hostages.

Police assumed the Wednesday shooting was just a tragic coincidence, unrelated to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. But on Friday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls told reporters that the two incidents were in fact connected, and that the shooter had communicated with the Kouachi brothers—suggesting that Wednesday’s attack might be part of a bigger plan. “The latest advances in the investigation allows us to establish a connection” between the two incidents, Valls said on Friday afternoon, while he was meeting the grief-sticken staff members of Charlie Hebdo, at the offices of the French daily newspaper Libération.

Police said they were also looking for Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, in connection with Wednesday shooting. It is not clear if she was with Coulibaly at the Porte de Vincennes. Le Monde reported that Boumeddiene was Coulibaly’s former girlfriend.

Earlier in the morning, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, aged 34 and 32, fled the wooded areas further of Paris in a Peugeot car they hijacked on the road, according to French media reports. Shortly after there was sounds of gunfire, as the suspects fled towards CTF Creation Tendance Decouverte, a sign making and printing factory in an industrial zone close to Paris’s main airport.

For the first time since Wednesday, French officials sounded confident that they were close to a climax in the manhunt. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters on Friday morning that SWAT teams had the men cornered in the factory in Dammartin-en-Goèle and that special forces were on site, ready to move in. “Operations will be conducted in the hours, the minutes,” he said shortly after 10 a.m.

France Info radio interviewed a man who gave his name as Didier who said he went into the factory when the gunmen were there. He had an appointment with the factory manager and he shook the hand of one of the gunmen who he took to be a police officer. “We all shook hands and my client told me to leave.” Didier said the gunman told him: “Go, we don’t kill civilians”. He added “I thought it was strange.”

He said: “As I left I didn’t know what it was, it wasn’t normal. I did not know what was going on. Was it a hostage taking or a burglary?”

Christelle Alleume, who works across the street, said that a round of gunfire interrupted her coffee break Friday morning.

“We heard shots and we returned very fast because everyone was afraid,” she told i-Tele. “We had orders to turn off the lights and not approach the windows.”

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said both men were known to intelligence services.

On Thursday evening French officials told the U.S. that Saïd Kouachi had traveled to Yemen in 2011 and received weapons training from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of AQAP died in a U.S. drone attack that same year. The younger brother Chérif spent 18 months in jail in 2008 for having attempted to fight with jihadist groups against U.S. forces in Iraq. Police had monitored his radical views for years. By contrast to his brother, Saïd had managed to escape arrest so far. Cazeneuve said on Thursday that the older Kouachi brother “has never been prosecuted or convicted, but has appeared on the periphery of judicial cases.”

The head of Britain’s MI5 security agency said on Thursday that British intelligence believed terror networks were actively planning “complex and ambitious plots” against Western targets. Speaking at MI5 headquarters in London, Andrew Parker told members of the Royal United Services Institute, a defense and security think tank, that those fighting in Syria were currently plotting assaults abroad. “We know, for example, that a group of core al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria is planning mass casualty attacks against the West,” he said.

Malcolm Rifkind, a British legislator and chairman of the House of Commons intelligence and security committee said the brothers had been in close contact with associates in Yemen in recent days. “What is emerging in Paris is that the two individual responsible for the terrible massacre at Charlie Hebdo were communicating with people in the Yemen over the last days, last few weeks,” he told the BBC.

TIME France

Suspects in Charlie Hebdo Attack Evade Authorities for a Second Day

People in France and around the world mourned the 12 people killed

The two brothers who are prime suspects in the deadly terrorist attack that killed 12 people in Paris managed to evade capture for a second day on Thursday, as France endured a national day of mourning that accompanied vigils around the world.

The brothers appeared to have sought refuge Thursday about 50 miles northeast of the French capital, as thousands of police mounted a furious manhunt to find them. As night fell in France amid large vigils and a national day of mourning, the suspects had not yet been apprehended. Dozens had been questioned in the investigation and nine people police said were close to the suspects had been detained, the Associated Press reports, but what if any connection they had to the attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo remained unclear.

“France has been struck directly in the heart of its capital, in a place where the spirit of liberty — and thus of resistance — breathed freely,” French President François Hollande said. On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama visited the French embassy in Washington, D.C., to sign a guest book of condolences.

MORE: What to Know About the Paris Terrorist Attack

The day of mourning coincided with a closely watched manhunt and with authorities saying their primary concern was preventing another attack. At about 10 a.m. Thursday, residents in the town of Villers-Cotterêt in the Aisne district of Picardie said they had spotted the two men, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, driving through the town, armed with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Later on Thursday morning, the brothers stole food and gas from a local gas station, according to France 3 Picardie, the local television channel. They later fled, abandoning the car, and an unnamed police source told the French news agency Agence France-Presse that they had found black jihadist flags and homemade firebombs in the vehicle.

Reports on local and social media suggested the search was focused on the Villiers-Cotterêt area, including the town of Crépy-en-Valois, the village of Abbaye de Longpont and surrounding forest. The Ministry of the Interior extended its area of high alert on Thursday evening from Paris to also include the Villers-Cotterêt area.

While Hollande’s government vowed to capture them quickly, the more worrying question is this: How did well-known hard-liners who have been under surveillance for years for their jihadist views succeed in pulling off a spectacular assault under the noses of the French police?

The prime suspects for the Charlie Hebdo massacre — Saïd, 34, and his brother Chérif, 32 — were born of Algerian immigrant parents in Paris’ 10th District; police believe they came home last summer after fighting with jihadist groups in Syria. A third suspect gave himself up to police in Paris after his name was mentioned in social media. Classmates of Mourad Hamyd, 18, said he was in class with them at the time of the attack. They launched a hashtag campaign #MouradHamydInnocent as evidence of his innocence.

The brothers were orphaned at a young age and raised in foster care in the city of Rennes, according to the French paper Libération. Astonishingly, the police zeroed in on the two after Saïd left his national identity card in the Citroën car that the two used to flee from the police on Wednesday, according to French media reports. Their faces are now on wanted posters on public buildings across France, with police appealing to people to look out for the brothers and to report any information about their whereabouts.

The Kouachi brothers were still on the run on Thursday morning. Hundreds of riot police raided a low-income housing complex in the northeastern city of Reims overnight, where the older brother, Saïd lived, according to French media. One neighbor told RTL Television that he was “a guy I pass regularly in the stairs while leaving the building.”

But while the Kouachi brothers’ location was a mystery on Thursday morning, the political history of one of them was not.

Chérif Kouachi was part of a network of militants from Paris’ 19th District, a relatively poor area with a high number of immigrants on the northeastern edge of the city, that found ready recruits for jihadist activities after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Chérif tried to go to fight in Iraq by traveling through Syria but was arrested on the way.

Although not originally a devout Muslim, Chérif allegedly joined the jihad after seeing the photographs of abuse by U.S. soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison in 2004. He later described to police how an imam in his neighborhood had recruited youths to fight against U.S. forces in Iraq, according to the New York Times, which wrote about him and his friends in 2005.

Although he himself never made it to the battlefield in Iraq in 2004, he was sentenced in 2008 to three years imprisonment after a dramatic trial and served 18 months in jail. In a chilling echo to today’s anxieties about the French citizens fighting in Syria and Iraq, the police at the time warned that the French youths drafted to fight for al-Qaeda in Iraq “could use Iraqi battlefield skills in terror attacks back in France,” the Associated Press reported at the time.

French investigative-news program Pièces à Convictions also reported on him in 2005 while he was in prison. According to the program, Chérif preferred rap music and hanging out with girls to going to the mosque.

But within months he became a dedicated student of a man called Farid Bennyatou, whom he met regularly. Chérif is cited in the video saying that “Farid told me that the texts demonstrate the benefit of suicide attacks. It is written in these texts that it is good to die as a martyr.” The television program describes how Chérif became convinced very quickly that he too wanted to fight. His preparations for doing so were amateurish: a few jogs around the park and a short meeting with a supposed arms specialist who explained how to use a Kalashnikov.

“Thanks to Farid’s advice, my doubts faded. I was scared but didn’t say so. It’s evident that Farid influenced me in my departure, in that he gave me a justification for my imminent death,” he says in the video.

French newspaper Le Point notes that police raids of Chérif’s home in 2010 uncovered radical Islamist photographs, videos and speeches from al-Qaeda, while his browsing history revealed Chérif had consulted many web pages related to radical Islam and jihad; child pornography was also found on his hard drive.

Read next: The Provocative History of French Weekly Newspaper Charlie Hebdo

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TIME France

1 Suspect Surrenders in Paris Terrorist Attack That Killed 12

Worst terrorism attack in France in recent memory

One suspect had surrendered early Thursday, after the worst terrorist attack in France in recent memory claimed 12 lives, while a manhunt for two other suspects continued to unfold.

The attack on the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris left the country deeply shaken. Three gunmen stormed the newspaper’s offices wearing black ski masks, opened fire with a hail of bullets and hijacked a car to flee the scene.

A spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office identified the suspect who turned himself in as 18-year-old Mourad Hamyd, the Associated Press reports. A police bulletin early Thursday identified the other two suspects as Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, French brothers in their early 30s.

Thousands gathered for vigils in Paris to honor the victims Wednesday night, following a tense day of lockdown that saw police stationed outside all of the city’s schools, newspapers, train stations and religious sites. The New York Times reported that public schools in Paris were closed, while the U.S. Embassy in Paris said that it would remain open.

Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, suspicions quickly pointed to hard-line Islamist militant groups, which have singled out the newspaper for years in threats.

French newspaper Le Monde, citing an unnamed police source, reported that at least 3,000 officers were involved in the search for those responsible for the shooting. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the military was aiding police, according to the Guardian.

In the horrified aftermath as police were still assessing the carnage, French President François Hollande arrived at the scene of the crime and declared the shootings a terrorist act aiming to undermine France’s constitutional right to freedom of speech. “This was an operation by terrorists against a newspaper that has been threatened several times,” he told reporters on the sidewalk, calling the attack “an act of exceptional barbarism.”

“France today received a shock,” he said. “A newspaper means free speech for journalists.”

U.S. President Barack Obama also condemned the attack.

“For us to see the kind of cowardly, evil attacks that took place today reinforces once again why it’s so important for us to stand in solidarity with them just as they stand in solidarity with us,” Obama said from the White House. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have lost their loved ones.”

Security cameras showed two men jumping out of a black car shortly before midday, wearing ski masks, with rifles cocked and ready as they arrived at the building.

Witnesses said the gunmen entered the offices with Kalashnikov rifles and deliberately looked for journalists to kill. In a video clip shot by a neighbor, one passerby appears between two cars parked along the side of the road as shots blast out, while another man shouts to him, “Get down! Get down!”

This was not the first attack on the newspaper. Conservative Islamists have railed against Charlie Hebdo since at least 2011, when it published a series of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad. The publication’s offices were soon after firebombed, in what Muslim groups said was a revenge attack for the cartoons. In November last year, another firebomb was lobbed at the building.

Islam is not the only sacred cow Charlie Hebdo has taken on, however. The magazine has made its name for decades breaking taboos of all kinds, and its current Twitter icon features a crude cartoon of Mother Mary giving birth to Jesus Christ.

Le Monde reported Wednesday that Stéphane Charbonnier (“Charb”), the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist who was on al-Qaeda’s most-wanted list in 2013, had been killed. The paper’s editor in chief Gerard Biard was reportedly in London at the time of the attack.

Terrorism experts quickly pointed to the gunmen’s apparent professionalism. “They were well equipped, they had military weapons, they had probably bulletproof jackets,” terrorism consultant Jean-Charles Brisard told the BBC. “These individuals were well trained. This is probably the worst experience in France in the last 30 years.”

Last year attackers stormed the center-left newspaper Libération, seriously wounding one journalist and injuring several others.

Left unclear was how the gunmen had penetrated the newspaper’s security system on Wednesday, in the middle of a crowded area of Paris. The district is a mixed residential and commercial area, and one of the most crowded in the capital.

That apparent lapse could well deepen anxieties within Hollande’s government that the country is highly vulnerable to terrorist attacks, despite its large police force. Hollande quickly increased the country’s security-threat level to its highest level and called an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the government’s response. Under the new threat level, French media organizations, public transportation and public buildings are required to reinforce their security.

The government hopes that will be enough. But for weeks French officials have dreaded terrorist attacks, especially as some of the young French jihadists filter back home from the Syrian conflict. French police believe about 1,200 French citizens have fought in Syria since nearly four years of war there, as jihadist groups have tapped into a groundswell of militancy and disaffection among some of the country’s 7 million Muslims — Europe’s biggest Muslim population.

Read next: World Leaders Condemn Attack on Charlie Hebdo

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TIME Terrorism

Lawyers Believe Torture Report Will Help Prosecution of CIA Agents in Europe

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein discusses a newly released Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's anti-terrorism tactics, in the U.S. Senate in Washington, Dec. 9, 2014.
Reuters Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein discusses a newly released Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's anti-terrorism tactics, in the U.S. Senate in Washington, Dec. 9, 2014.

The Senate Committee's explicit description of US torture may facilitate legal action

The lawyers of those who’ve spent years in U.S. detention centers like Guantánamo Bay did not expect any surprises in the Senate’s torture report, which described the CIA’s tactics as “brutal”; the prisoners’ lawyers have already heard hours of grim testimony about what their clients endured.

Yet even so, they say, the Senate report could be a breakthrough in cases that have dragged on for years in the U.S. and Europe — and could pave the way for fresh legal action against the CIA’s top officials for permitting torture. “The gaps have been between the CIA agents involved and the higher-ups conducting this policy,” says Wolfgang Kaleck, a lawyer and director of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin, which has brought criminal cases against the U.S. military and CIA agents in Germany, Switzerland, Spain and France. Kaleck says lawyers will now study the Senate report for signs that the coercive tactics were a policy directed from the agency’s top levels, rather than simply the actions of errant employees. “It would hopefully allow us to argue for command responsibility for torture,” he told TIME on Tuesday.

Take the case of Khaled al-Masri. In 2003, al-Masri, a Lebanese-born German citizen, was mistakenly arrested in Macedonia because his name was similar to a wanted al-Qaeda militant. He was sent to a U.S. prison in Afghanistan as part of the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program. In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ordered Macedonian officials to reward al-Masri damages for his being “severely beaten, sodomized, shackled and hooded” after his arrest. Yet the Senate report makes clear that al-Masri also suffered abuse at the hands of the CIA, which conducted “enhanced interrogation techniques” that included sleep deprivation.

But the more serious criminal indictments in courts in Germany against the 13 CIA agents involved in Masri’s detention have languished for years because the agents have scrupulously avoided traveling to Europe — where they are likely to be arrested — making a hearing against them effectively fruitless. Another case against the agents, filed in Spain, has been closed. The Senate torture report says that in 2007, the CIA’s Inspector General said the agency, “lacked sufficient basis to render and detain al-Masri.” Yet the CIA opted not to charge the agents involved, arguing that “the scale tips decisively in favor of accepting mistakes” rather than erring on the side of “under-connecting” the dots.

Al-Masri’s is not the only case the Senate report could impact. In a similar trial, an Italian judge convicted 22 CIA agents in their absence in 2009, for the kidnapping of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr on a street in Milan in 2003, and sending him to a jail in Egypt, where he says he was tortured. The agents were sentenced to jail terms ranging from seven to nine years. But the convictions remain symbolic, since the Italian government, a close ally of Washington, refused to seek their extradition from the U.S.

The Senate’s torture report makes it no more likely that those CIA agents will ever see the inside of an Italian jail. Still, lawyers say the very fact that the agency’s torture tactics are now written into an official U.S. document could make it far easier for them to argue their case in court. This is especially true in countries that are close allies in the U.S.’s anti-terrorism campaign, and which have tried to block cases from being heard on the grounds of political sensitivities. Lawyers believe that the release of the Senate report suggests that government officials are taking torture claims far more seriously than they did before, and they hope that will lead to closer scrutiny not only of CIA abuses but also by the U.S. military. “It’s evidence of a broader social trend, that we are considering more honestly the nature of the torture program,” says attorney Cori Crider, who represents several people the CIA rendered to U.S.-run prisons in the early 2000s; she spoke from Uruguay, where she was meeting her client, Abu Waled Dhiab, one of the six Guantánamo prisoners freed last weekend and flown there.

After years of legal wrangling, Libyan politician Abdel-Hakim Belhaj finally won the right to sue Britain’s intelligence agency MI6, for a joint MI6-CIA operation against him in 2003, when Belhaj and his wife were snatched from their Bangkok home and flown to Libya. There, Belhaj, a conservative Islamist, faced years of torture in one of Muammar Gaddafi’s notorious jails. “The British government has always said those cases cannot go to trial because ‘it will damage our relations with the U.S.,'” Crider says. “But if the Senate is involved in a very detailed examination of torture, that excuse by the British government is exposed for the kabuki that it is.”

The Senate report may have given the lawyers much more ammunition but now they have to take the battle back to the courts.

TIME Middle East

Wife of ISIS Leader Could Be ‘Best Source of Information’ About ISIS

A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Mosul, Iraq, in 2014.
Reuters A man purported to be the reclusive ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Saja al-Dulaimi is being held by the Lebanese military with her child

In what could be one of the biggest breaks yet in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Lebanese officials said on Tuesday they had arrested a wife and child of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the two tried to cross over the Syrian border late last month using false identity documents. The Lebanese military has detained the pair and is in coordination with foreign intelligence agencies,” according to Lebanon’s as-Safir newspaper.

If that is correct, intelligence agents from the U.S. to Iraq might have stumbled on a goldmine.

The woman, whom Iraqi and Lebanese officials identified as Saja al-Dulaimi, is not the first wife of a fugitive leader to flee her husband’s territory; the wives of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi fled across the borders of their countries before the capture of their husbands, fearing they would be arrested or killed in the attacks on the regimes of their husbands.

But that is where the similarities end, say some experts. Saddam’s family, who now live in Amman, Jordan, and Gaddafi’s wife, who found refuge in Algiers and finally Oman, live in freedom and keep a low profile.

MORE: Feds Say ISIS May Target U.S. Military at Home

But Dulaimi, an Iraqi and one of Baghdadi’s three wives, could provide crucial details in custody about her husband, as the U.S. and allies wage a fierce bombing campaign to crush ISIS. With so few known facts about Baghdadi, “she is the best source of information about him and about the dynamics of ISIS that anyone has had up until now,” says Sajjan Gohel, International Security Director at the Asia Pacific Foundation in London. He added that the fact that Lebanon waited 10 days before announcing her arrest suggests that they were squeezing Dulaimi for information before letting ISIS know they had her in custody, perhaps to give the U.S. and its allies time to plan surprise operations against Baghdadi. “Until now the flow of information has been always directed by ISIS,” says Gohel.

Among the details the U.S. and Iraq might find interesting — and which Dulaimi could be well-placed to know — is where Baghdadi is now, what routes he uses to travel around ISIS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq, and whether he was injured in an airstrike last month, as reports suggested. It was unclear on Tuesday whether the child arrested with Dulaimi was a boy or a girl. But the very fact that Dulaimi has fled Syria might suggest that ISIS is under such severe pressure, that Baghdadi has sent his loved ones to safety elsewhere, or that his wife decided herself to flee the war. Dulaimi was among 150 women prisoners the Syrian government freed last March in exchange for 13 nuns captured by Islamic militant insurgents of the al-Nusra Front.

Little is known about Dulaimi’s own role in ISIS; CNN on Tuesday quoted a Lebanese security force describing her as “a powerful figure heavily involved in ISIS.” Now, she could also find herself a valuable bargaining chip in the turmoil rocking the region, as governments and insurgent forces trade firepower and prisoners. Reuters on Tuesday quoted a Lebanese security official saying Dulaimi was “a powerful card to apply pressure” on militants, who are not directly connected to ISIS, to free 27 members of Lebanon’s security forces.

As long as Dulaimi remains in custody, however, she joins a growing number of close relatives of terrorist leaders who have paid the price for their loved ones’ actions.

Immediately after the September 11 attacks in 2001, several relatives of Osama Bin Laden fled Afghanistan, some across the border to Iran. “They stayed there for many years,” Gohel says. “The assumption is that whatever intelligence they provided was never shared with the international community.” And after U.S. Navy SEALs assassinated Bin Laden in May, 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that country arrested the al-Qaeda leader’s wives and children who lived with him there, keeping them under house arrest for a year before deporting them to Saudi Arabia.

Read next: Wife of ISIS Leader Detained in Lebanon

TIME France

Mystery Surrounds Disappearance of North Korean Student in France

French officials believe the young man was escaping North Korean agents at Paris airport

One day in early November a young North Korean student passing through Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris suddenly bolted away from his travel companions and vanished into the crowds. It seemed to be a last-ditch effort to save himself from imprisonment or execution, according to French government officials.

Officials believe the man, whom they have identified only as Han, was escaping from North Korean agents who French authorities believe had abducted him. “He was taken to the airport but he escaped,” says a French official who did not want to be named because she was not authorized to speak about the case. “This is a young guy who is the son of an important man in the North Korean regime. His dad was executed a few months ago so that is why, I suppose, he was targeted.”

Han’s father was an aide to Jang Song-thaek, a powerful figure under former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the son and successor of Kim Jong-il, ordered Jang executed in December 2013 after Jang was charged with treason.

About two weeks before Han fled his captors he had disappeared from his campus at l’Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture in Paris, according to school officials and French police. A group of North Korean students began studying at the school in 2012 as part of a cultural exchange program between France and North Korea, aimed at improving relations between the two countries.

When Han vanished from the university French police quizzed faculty members and students about where he was, but no one had seen him for about two weeks, according to Yonhap, a South Korean news agency.

Han now appears to be in hiding. The French official who spoke to TIME said Han’s location was being kept secret “for his own safety,” but suggested that the government knows where he is. Pascal Dayez-Burgeon, a North Korea expert who served as a French diplomat in Seoul between 2001 and 2007, believes that after escaping from his captors Han might have headed to South Korea’s embassy in Paris to find refuge and claim asylum. He points to the fact that reports of Han’s escape appeared in South Korea in late November, suggesting that journalists in Seoul had waited until they knew Han was safe before publishing the news.

The alleged kidnapping of Han was the second North Korea-related incident in France in just under a year. Last December another young student, Kim Han-sol, vanished from his university campus in the French coastal city of Le Havre, where he was studying at the Institute of Political Science. Kim, 19, is a nephew of Kim Jong-un and apparently feared he was in danger because of a political purge that was underway in North Korea. The young student stayed out of sight for a week and then reappeared on campus guarded by French police. He now has two bodyguards, “to make sure he will not be abducted by the regime,” according to Dayez-Burgeon.

Kim Han-sol’s family had been closely connected to Jang Song-thaek. The student had another reason to worry: In a Finnish television interview two years ago, when he was 17, he described his grandfather, former leader Kim Jong-il, as having been a “dictator” whom he had barely known growing up.

North Korean students abroad rarely defect. North Korea experts say that could be because possible defectors fear that the government would retaliate against their relatives back home. “They all belong to the elite of the regime, so if they do break away their whole family back home could be held hostage,” says Dayez-Burgeon.

TIME France

French National Front Secures Funding From Russian Bank

National Front president Marine Le Pen gives a press conference on Nov. 7, 2014 in Nanterre, near Paris.
Eric Feferberg—AFP/Getty Images National Front president Marine Le Pen gives a press conference on Nov. 7, 2014 in Nanterre, near Paris.

Party official claims National Front is almost broke

Is Russian President Vladimir Putin meddling in the internal politics of countries in the European Union? That seemed a strong possibility to some Europeans this week, after French political leader Marine Le Pen confirmed she had secured a €9-million ($11.1 million) loan from a Moscow-based bank, in order to run her right-wing National Front party.

“At this stage, Russia is trying to influence French domestic policy,” says Jean-Yves Camus, a political researcher at France’s Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS). If so, Putin’s strategy resembles the Soviet Union before its collapse in 1991, when Moscow funded trade unions and political groups in western Europe in an attempt to buy influence and destabilize foes. “In this respect Putin is pretty much in line with the former USSR. It is the same policy all over again,” says Camus.

The French investigative news site Mediapart first broke the news that the National Front had taken the loan, with a 6% interest rate, from First Czech Russian Bank, a small Moscow-based institution, the chairman of which is Roman Popov. Mediapart said the deal emerged partly as a result of Le Pen’s visit to Moscow last February, where she met Alexander Babakov, a Russian lawmaker with connections to Putin. Babakov, who owns businesses in Ukraine, was placed under E.U. sanctions in April in retaliation for Putin annexing Crimea from Ukraine.

Well before Le Pen’s political prospects rocketed this year — the National Front won a string of victories in municipal elections in March and polled top among French voters in E.U. elections in May — the Front’s president threw her energies into cultivating allies beyond the borders of France. She traveled to Moscow in June, 2013, and met with the Speaker of the State Duma, Sergei Naryshkin and deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who hailed her as a politician of stature. She made a return trip shortly before the E.U. elections.

The trips appear to have paid dividends. A key Le Pen aide told TIME on Tuesday that the Russian loan was desperately needed since the party was close to broke after investing heavily in its election success.”It has been a real struggle,” says Ludovic de Danne, senior E.U. advisor to Le Pen, speaking from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. He says Front officials have spent months trying to borrow money, tapping their supporters in countries around the world in an attempt to shake loose funds in order to run their operations. “Banks did not want to lend to us,” he says, adding that those who rejected them included “really, really big American institutions.”

Le Pen has been a staunch supporter of Russia. For months she has lambasted the E.U. for its sanctions against it, and she told Naryshkin in Moscow last year that Europe’s “Cold War on Russia” was “not in line with traditional, friendly relations nor with the economic interests of our country.”

Le Pen — whose party is similar to populist movements like the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) and the Alternative for Germany — aims to pull her country out of the Union and reclaim its sovereignty over border control and fiscal budgets. As Putin fights to keep Ukraine and other countries allied to Russia, anything that weakens the 28-country E.U. could help further that cause.

The far-right parties in Europe share certain ideological opinions with Putin including opposition to gay marriage and open immigration. UKIP leader Nigel Farage earlier this year said Putin was one of the world leaders he most admired.The National Front aims to dismantle the E.U. and replace it with a European coalition of sovereign states that would include Russia, rather than a union that hues to U.S. values and policies, as Le Pen claims. “Russia should be a privileged partner in Europe,” de Danne says. “We don’t see Russia in 2014 as an enemy, we see Russia as a European country. And we want a multipolar world.”

Even so, some believe Putin might be misjudging the potential for right-wing leaders in Europe to take control of their governments. “In practical terms the far-right parties are of little help to him as they hold no power,” says Cas Mudde, associate professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia. Similarly, Camus believes that Putin could be further isolated if Le Pen fails to become French president. “This strategy can backfire,” he says. “Putin is pretty much isolated in the international community. So I think he doesn’t have anything to gain by supporting or helping the extreme right.”

By contrast, Le Pen has already gained something valuable — a loan to support her party finances. Still, her aide de Danne denies that the loan will lead to Russian influence on the group. “It is not the agenda of Marine to get her orders from Moscow, not at all,” he says. “We had no choice. If a European bank says we’ll give you money, we will switch tomorrow.”

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