Security officials in France say they are hunting for at least six more members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
“The threat is still present” from last week’s terror attacks in Paris, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told BFM television on Wednesday. “The work on these attacks, on these terrorist and barbaric acts continues . . . because we consider that there are most probably some possible accomplices.”
The terrorists were involved in last week’s attacks in Paris and are believed to include a man seen driving a car registered to Hayat Boumedienne, the widow of Amedy Coulibaly, one of the gunmen killed in Friday’s shootout.
Police are searching Paris for the Mini Cooper registered to Boumedienne, according to The Associated Press. She herself is already in Syria, according to reports from Turkish intelligence
French police sources were also quoted as saying the original terror cell was comprised of some 10 members and that “five or six could still be at large.” No names were released. A second police source said there were eight members in the cell, including Boumedienne.
As many as 10,000 military personnel have been deployed across the country to protect various sites, including iconic landmarks, strategic sites and Jewish schools and neighborhoods. Some 4,700 troops are to be assigned to protect the 717 Jewish schools in France, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Monday. “A little girl was telling me earlier that she wanted to live in peace and learn in peace in her school,” the interior minister related during a visit to a Paris Jewish class. “That’s what the government, that’s what the Republic, owes to all the children in France: security in all the schools, especially in the schools that could be threatened,” he said.
The move comes in the wake of a three-day rampage of terror that left 17 people dead and more wounded last week, including five Jews. The siege began with an attack on the offices of the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, a satiric weekly French magazine that has published a number of irreverent caricatures of the prophet Muhammed, the founder of Islam. Also attacked was a kosher grocery, where more than a dozen shoppers were held hostage by Coulibaly, who eventually killed four before he himself was killed in the hours before the start of the Sabbath. Brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi took another hostage in a printing factory across the city until police stormed the building, forcing them to come out with guns blazing and meet their deaths.
The two brothers were members of AQAP and Coulibaly had pledged allegiance to ISIS. But Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi knew each other from way back; they were served time in prison together in 2005. Cherif was also convicted in 2008 of holding membership in a network that sent jihadis to fight U.S. forces in Iraq. In 2010, Cherif and Coulibaly traveled together with their wives to central France to visit Djamel Beghal, a radical Islamist sentenced to 10 years in prison for terrorist activity. In 2011, Cherif’s brother Said traveled to Yemen to spend time with AQAP leader Anwar al-Awlaki and to train with AQAP terrorists.
A fourth terrorist, Hamid Mourad surrendered to police during a raid just hours after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.