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Terror attack on Charlie Hebdo. Wikipedia

French police nets top terror suspect

The jihadist Peter Chérif, the possible sponsor of the attack against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, is in the hands of the French police.

Published: December 21, 2018, 8:32 am

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    The jihadist, a friend of the notorious terrorist Kouachi brothers, is suspected of being the brain behind the Charlie Hebdo attack. He is in the hands of the French police, Marianne reported on Thursday.

    It is a huge catch for French security services. The French jihadist Peter Chérif, has been on the run since 2011, but a French police source confirmed on Thursday, December 20, that the suspect was apprehended in Djibouti.

    Chérif, a friend of the Kouachi brothers, also known as Abu Hamza, is currently being extradited to France.

    He is one of the most wanted terrorists in the world. A member of the jihadist cell of Buttes-Chaumont in the late 1990s, he is suspected of being one of the sponsors of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

    The magazine has been the target of at least two terrorist attacks, in 2011 and 2015. Both were presumed to be in response to a number of controversial Muhammad cartoons it published. In the second of these attacks, 12 people were killed, including publishing director Charb and several other prominent cartoonists.

    On 7 January 2015, two Islamist gunmen identified as Saïd Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi, shouted “Allahu akbar” and “the Prophet is avenged” during the shooting.

    At 36, the jihadist CV of Chérif is already particularly alarming. A former juvenile delinquent, he fought in Iraq in the early 2000s. But before being arrested, he escaped.

    Because he was not detained during his trial, he escaped on the last day of his hearing, in January 2011, and headed for Yemen. He joined the ranks of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQPA) where Saïd Kouachi joined him.

    The police suspect him of being one of the sponsors, even the main brain behind the Charlie Hebdo murders, and also of having also been in contact with Amedy Coulibaly, author of another terror attack.

    One particular detail has been intriguing the investigators: Peter Chérif followed a formation of heavy truck driver in Dammartin-en-Goële, just next to the printing press where the Kouachi brothers took refuge. The jihadist will now be questioned.

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