Turkey investigates claims about Paris attack suspect

SHAFAQNA- Turkey is investigating claims that Hayat Boumeddiene, believed to be the partner of a man who killed a police woman and four people at a Jewish supermarket last week in Paris, entered Syria via Turkey in early January.

“Turkey has always been in close cooperation with every country when it comes to terrorist acts. … Thus the intelligence agencies [of France and Turkey] are having comprehensive consultations [about the claims],” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told a press conference before leaving for France on Sunday.

Speaking about Boumeddiene’s potential use of Turkey as a transit route to Syria, Davutoğlu said Turkey plays host to millions of tourists, and therefore it is hard to block movement into Syria if Turkish officials are not informed beforehand.

Davutoğlu vowed to take the necessary steps regarding the claims.

According to reports, Boumeddienne traveled to İstanbul from Madrid on Jan. 2 and Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) started to track her after security officials at the airport reported that the woman was acting suspiciously.

Boumedienne stayed in a hotel with a French citizen, Mehdi Sabry Belhoucine, in the district of Kadıköy in İstanbul and checked out on Jan. 3. MİT then stopped tracking the two, as France had not released a notification about Boumedienne and Belhoucıne.

MİT later informed French authorities about the two female suspects after the terrorist attack that targeted the Paris office of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo last week.

MİT also says Boumeddienne and Belhoucine may have entered Syria illegally and traveled to a region under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Jan. 8.

In the meantime, a video emerged on Sunday purporting to show the gunman who attacked a Jewish grocery store in Paris last week, pledging allegiance to ISIL and defending the attacks on the satirical newspaper and the store. It appears that at least a portion of the video was filmed before the supermarket siege.

The SITE Intelligence Group said it had verified the video that shows a man resembling Amedy Coulibaly with a gun, exercising and making speeches in front of an ISIL emblem. He defends the attacks carried out on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, police and the Jewish store.

“What we are doing is completely legitimate, given what they are doing,” Coulibaly told the camera in fluent French. “You cannot attack and not expect retribution, so you are playing the victim as if you don’t understand what’s happening.”

Coulibaly took over the kosher grocery, demanding freedom for the brothers who carried out the massacre at newspaper Charlie Hebdo. At the time, the brothers were trapped in a printing house near Charles de Gaulle airport.

All three men were killed in nearly simultaneous raids by security forces.

Five people detained in connection with three days of bloodshed in France were released from custody, the Paris prosecutor’s spokeswoman said earlier Sunday. Family members of the attackers have been given preliminary charges, but prosecutor’s spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said no one remained in detention Sunday over the attacks that left 17 people dead.


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