Hayat Boumedienne was in a big hurry as she passed through Turkey into Syria, but not such a hurry that she didn’t have time to spend a couple of days in a popular hotel in Istanbul. Enough time for Turkish intelligence to lift her fingerprints, too.
Turkey’s alert security services managed to collect the fingerprints of the wife of Amedy Coulibaly, an operative for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) even though they maintained they were “unaware” of her importance.
Coulibaly is believed to have killed a French policewoman on Jan. 8 and held more than a dozen people hostage at a kosher grocery the next day, killing four and wounding others before he was finally killed by French police.
Meanwhile Boumedienne had apparently slipped into Syria while all that was going on, and according to a report published in the Daily Hurriyet, after having arrived in Turkey on Jan. 2 to rendezvous with ISIS terrorists.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed on Monday, Jan. 12 that airport footage showed Boumedienne’s arrival in Turkey on Jan. 2, in addition to evidence from “telephone recordings” that she had stayed in Istanbul’s Kadikoy neighborhood and crossed into Syria on Jan. 8.
French authorities were aware of the information, Davutoglu said. “We provided them with the information as soon as we got it, without them even asking,” he told reporters, responding to claims by the Syrian Foreign Ministry that Ankara had allowed ISIS terrorists to travel through Turkey to Syria.
Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fiden was quoted by Hurriyet as saying that Turkey has deported 1,056 foreigners and imposed a travel ban on 7,833 others to prevent foreign fighters from joining jihadist groups in Syria.
According to the Daily Yeni Safak, Boumedienne stayed for two days at a hotel in the central Istanbul district of Kadikoy on the city’s Asian side, together with a man identified as Mehdi Sabri Belhouchine. The two left the hotel only twice in the two days they were there, the daily newspaper reported.
The British newspaper The Times reported that Boumedienne called France 18 times during her stay in Istanbul, before crossing into Syria. She traveled to the southeastern province of Sanliurfa on Jan. 4. According to the report, the last signal from her phone was picked up on Jan. 8, one day after the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the same day that her husband, Amedy Coulibaly, shot a policewoman.
“It is unlikely that she will cross again into Turkey, even with a fake identity, because her name has been revealed. Along with her fingerprints, her face has also been disclosed,” states a security report on Boumedienne, according to Hurriyet. “She will likely be [hidden] by the militant group. Then she might be dispatched to a different zone to operate.”Hana Levi Julian