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Paris Suspects Declared Allegiance To Al-Qaida, ISIS

In a new video, Amedy Coulibaly, one of the three gunmen allegedly behind the worst militant attacks in France for decades, declares his allegiance to the Islamic State.
Reuters TV
In a new video, Amedy Coulibaly, one of the three gunmen allegedly behind the worst militant attacks in France for decades, declares his allegiance to the Islamic State.

Updated at 1:40 p.m. ET

A video has surfaced of the now-dead suspect in the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris claiming allegiance to the self-declared Islamic State.

In the video, what appears to be Amedy Coulibaly, 32, is seen seated next to a Kalashnikov rifle with the symbol of the Islamic State behind him. He is wearing a white tunic and bandana.

The respected SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist activity, says it has authenticated the video.

"I am pledging my allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims, Abu Bakr al Bagdadi," he says, referring to the self-declared leader of ISIS. The video, apparently filmed sometime between Wednesday's attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Friday siege of the supermarket.

Words on the screen in French ask: "Are you linked to the brothers who attacked Charlie Hebdo?"

"We are a team, in league together," Coulibaly responds. "I am with the team who did Charlie Hebdo," he says.

During the hostage standoff at the supermarket, Coulibaly also telephoned France's BFMTV television to say that he had coordinated his efforts with the Charlie Hebdo assailants.

One of those alleged assailants, Chérif Kouachi, gave a separate telephone interview to BFMTV from his hideout in a warehouse outside of Paris late last week.

"I just want to tell you that we are defenders of the Prophet," he said, according to a transcript from The Independent. "I, Chérif Kouachi, was sent by al-Qaeda in Yemen. I was over there. I was financed by Imam Anwar al-Awlaki."

The al-Qaida reference is to the extremist group's Yemeni affiliate, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. Al-Awlaki was the leader of that group before he was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

Chérif Kouachi and his brother, Said, are believed to have participated in the attack on the magazine. Both were killed when police stormed the warehouse on Friday. Coulibaly was killed in a simultaneous siege on the supermarket.

Meanwhile, unnamed French and Turkish intelligence officials reportedly have said they now believe that Coulibaly's partner, a woman who was first thought to be a fourth suspect, was in fact outside France when the attacks took place.

France 24 says: "[Police] are still searching for [Coulibaly's] girlfriend, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, who was identified as his suspected accomplice in the killing of a young female officer in southern Paris on Thursday. However, the police may have been mistaken about Boumeddiene's direct involvement in the shooting as news broke Saturday that she had left France for Turkey on January 2. Investigations are underway to check if she might have crossed the border into Syria on January 8."

Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking on CBS' Face the Nation today said he thinks "the possibility of such attacks exists in the United States," but he seemed to suggest that the attacks in France might not be at the specific direction of a larger extremist network.

"It is something that, frankly, keeps me up at night worrying about the lone wolf or a very small group of people who decide to get arms on their own and do what we saw in France this week," he said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.