In the aftermath of a week of terrorist attacks across Paris that left 20 people dead, including the three gunmen, French investigators are still working to piece together the whereabouts of Hayat Boumeddiene, the girlfriend of one of the assailants and the only suspected co-conspirator thought to still be alive.
Although police now reportedly believe Boumeddiene was likely in Turkey at the time of the attacks, authorities are still searching for her in connection to the killings last week at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and then at a kosher grocery store. Boumeddiene’s boyfriend, Amedy Coulibaly, was killed Friday when police stormed the Paris grocery store where he was holding at least 15 people hostage.
An unnamed source in the Turkish security forces told AFP that Boumeddiene arrived in Turkey on Jan. 2, five days before the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo and a week before Coulibaly took hostages in the grocery store. Coulibaly also allegedly killed a policewoman on Thursday and killed four civilians in the grocery store on Friday.
Although details are still emerging, the Guardian reports that Boumeddiene may have crossed into Syria on Jan. 8 and did not use her return ticket booked for Jan. 9.
One of seven children, Boumeddiene was placed in foster care at a young age after her father was unable to care for the children after her mother died. She “married” Coulibaly in an unofficial ceremony, which is not recognized by French law, in 2009. Boumeddiene was reportedly a devout Muslim and is said to have lost her job at a supermarket because she insisted on wearing full religious attire.
Coulibaly is thought to be a co-conspirator of Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, the brothers who killed 10 journalists and 2 police officers when they broke into the offices of Charlie Hebdo and opened fire on Jan. 7. It appears that the brothers were part of the same Islamist network, and Coulibaly and Chérif reportedly met in prison. Coulibaly’s attack on the grocery store coincided with the Kouachi brothers’ attack on a printing plant north of the city. Paris prosecutor François Molins said there had been regular telephone contact (over 500 calls a year) between Boumeddiene and Izzana Hamyd, Chérif’s wife.
CNN reports that their affiliate BFMTV spoke to Coulibaly during the hostage situation and that he said he belonged to ISIS and had coordinated his attack on the kosher market with the Kouachi brothers’ attack on the printing plant. Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen said it directed Wednesday’s attack at Charlie Hebdo.