HUFFINGTON POST
01/12/2015 04:17 am ET Updated Mar 13, 2015

Hayat Boumeddiene, Paris Attacks Suspect, Entered Syria On Jan 8: Turkey's Foreign Minister

ASSOCIATED PRESS

By Humeyra Pamuk

ISTANBUL, Jan 12 (Reuters) - The suspected female accomplice of Islamist militants behind attacks in Paris was in Turkey five days before the killings and crossed into Syria on Jan. 8, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was cited as saying on Monday by state-run Anatolian news agency.

French authorities launched a search for 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene after French anti-terrorist police killed her partner Amedy Coulibaly in storming a Jewish supermarket where he had taken hostages. They described her as armed and dangerous.

Anatolian, on its website, cited Cavusoglu as saying in an interview she had arrived in Istanbul from Madrid on Jan. 2. Turkey had received no request from Paris to deny her access.

"There is footage (of her) at the airport. Later on, she stayed at a hotel with another person and crossed into Syria on January 8. We can tell that based on telephone records," he said.

Those dates would put Boumeddiene in Turkey before the violence in Paris began, and leaving for Syria while the attackers were still hiding from police.

Coulibaly said he was carrying out the attack in the name of Islamic State, a militant Islamist group that has seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Seventeen people, including journalists and policemen, were killed in three days of violence that began with the storming of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, Jan. 7, and ended with a hostage-taking at a kosher supermarket on Friday when four hostages were killed.

Three gunmen were killed and there was some confusion at first about whether Boumeddiene had been present in the supermarket when police stormed it, and had escaped.

SYRIAN ACCUSES TURKEY

An official French police photograph shows a young woman with long dark hair hitched back over her ears. French media, however, released photos purporting to be of a fully-veiled Boumeddiene, posing with a cross-bow, in what they said was a 2010 training session in the mountainous Cantal region.

French media described her as one of seven children whose mother died when she was young and whose delivery-man father struggled to keep working while looking after the family. As an adult, she lost her job as a cashier when she converted to Islam and started wearing the niqab.

Syrian state television quoted a source at the foreign ministry as saying Cavusoglu's comments were a "clear formal confession that Turkey is still the main crossing for foreign terrorists into Syria."

Damascus has repeatedly accused Turkey of supporting Islamist militants during the civil war and allowing fighters to cross its border. Istanbul officially denies enabling passage of foreign fighters who have swollen the ranks of al Qaeda-linked factions.

World leaders including Muslim and Jewish statesmen linked arms on Sunday to lead more than a million French citizens through Paris to pay tribute to victims of the attacks.

(Additional reporting by Oliver Holmes in Beirut; Editing by Daren Butler and Ralph Boulton)

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