Paris police seek new suspect in terror attacks

Posted at 11:16 AM, Jan 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-15 11:16:52-05

Police reportedly are searching for a fourth suspect in connection with last week's terrorist attacks that killed 17 people.

One of three gunmen responsible for the attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket had rented a suburban house the week before and filled it with a stockpile of weapons and equipment used to trace the fourth suspect, according to the newspaper Le Parisien.

Attacker Amedy Coulibaly, 32, rented the small house south of Paris in the suburb of Gentilly about two weeks ago, and a search by detectives from the Paris Criminal Brigade and a special police anti-terrorism unit resulted in the seizure of a scooter that allowed them to identity the new potential accomplice, according to Le Parisien.

In the Gentilly house, investigators also recovered the keys to a car, radical Islamic documents and an Islamic State flag, Le Parisien reported.

The newspaper did not identify the suspect, but said he may have shot and seriously wounded a jogger in the suburb of Fontenay-aux-Roses on Jan. 7, the same day two friends of Coulibaly, brothers Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, killed a dozen people at the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

The fourth suspect may have been involved in the attack on the magazine, has a lengthy criminal record and could have already fled to Syria, Le Parisien reported.

Police believe that the fourth suspect has a record for white-collar crime, is from Seine Saint Denis, northeast of Paris, and fits the description provided by the jogger attacked in Fontenay-aux-Roses, according to Le Parisien.

Coulibaly died last Friday in a police raid at the kosher supermarket where he had taken hostages, killing four. Police have said that earlier that week he also fatally shot a policewoman and the jogger in Fontenay-aux-Roses.

Meanwhile, Spanish officials investigating an alleged terrorist cell that supported the Paris attacks found evidence that Coulibaly stayed in Madrid from Dec. 30 to Jan. 2, according to the Catalan daily La Vanguardia.

Coulibaly was accompanied by Hayat Boumeddiene, the newspaper reported, noting that Turkish officials have confirmed that his girlfriend passed through Madrid at the same time.

Spanish anti-terrorist investigators are working the case in cooperation with their counterparts in France, the newspaper said.

French police union spokesman Christophe Crepin said Thursday that he could not confirm the reports that police were seeking a new suspect, but that the three gunmen did not act alone.

"The financing was by a jihadist cell," he said, "When you see the financing and the determination — these men were at war. That's just it — we are at war now."

Al-Qaida in Yemen released a video Wednesday claiming responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack. Crepin said police believe that the attackers did not have the resources to pay for the weapons, ammunition and equipment used in the assault, or to rent suspected hideouts on their own, but he could not say whether al-Qaida was behind it.

A regional French newspaper found documents showing that before the attack, Coulibably received a loan for 6,000 euros, about $7,000, from a company based in northern France. In a video released last weekend, Coulibaly said he'd given the Kouachi brothers several thousand euros to pay for their supplies.

Investigators on Thursday reportedly were still trying track down Mehdi Belhoucine, 23, who was seen fleeing with Coulibaly's girlfriend, Boumeddiene, 26, in security camera images captured at Istanbul's airport on Jan. 2. Belhoucine's older brother was sentenced to a year in prison last year for recruiting fighters for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Turkish officials have said Boumeddiene crossed from Turkey into Syria, but it was not clear Thursday whether Belhoucine was with her.

According to Le Parisien, police are still searching for a black Mini Cooper registered to Boumeddiene.

Earlier this week, Bulgarian authorities jailed another suspect in connection with the attacks: Joachim Fritz-Joly, 28, a friend of Cherif Kouachi who was on his way to Turkey and is now being held pending a hearing to determine whether he can be extradited to France.

Also Thursday, Parisians again lined up before dawn and waited hours in the cold for the second day of sales of Charlie Hebdo's latest edition, the first since the attacks.

Many newsstands received only 20 to 50 copies each Thursday and limited sales to one per person, at a cost of 3 euros each, about $4. The day before, many sold out shortly after they opened at 6 a.m., mostly to those who had reserved copies days in advance.

Copies of the historic issue featuring a caricature of the prophet Muhammad on the cover under the headline "All is Forgiven" remained on sale on EBay, but cost far more — up to $117,000, with someone in the U.S. paying $20,000.