Police have located the hideout of jihadist Amedy Coulibaly, along with a stash of weapons and other supplies, France’s RTL Radio reported Sunday, citing authorities.
According to the radio station’s exclusive reporting, France’s anti-criminal brigade, an arm of the National Police, found the apartment in Gentilly, on the outskirts of Paris, on Saturday.
Coulibaly rented the apartment from January 4 to January 11, police said, according to RTL. Inside, investigators found several automatic weapons, detonators, cash and ISIS flags.
Forensics teams have been examining the apartment to determine if Coulibaly’s alleged co-conspirator, Hayat Boumeddiene — who is still at large — may have stayed there, RTL reported.
Police began looking into the apartment after the Thursday slaying of a policewoman in the Paris district of Montrouge, the station reported. The car in which Coulibaly allegedly fled the crime scene was ditched in Arcueil, near the hideout, RTL said. After abandoning the car, Coulibaly boarded a train, police told RTL.
The report came as France was on high alert after security forces fatally shot Coulibaly, who police said killed four hostages on Friday at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris.
The same day, police killed Said and Cherif Kouachi, the brothers who police said attacked the Paris office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and left 12 people dead.
In addition to the magazine victims and the hostages, a policewoman was killed Thursday in Montrouge, south of Paris.
As more details on the days of horror emerged, France remained on high alert, but it was still unclear exactly who was behind the attacks. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, responding to a reported claim of responsibility by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the Charlie Hebdo attack, told CNN there was no “credible information” on who sponsored the violence.
French law enforcement officers have been told to erase their social media presence and carry weapons at all times because terror sleeper cells have been activated in the country, a police source said.
The source told CNN that the cells were activated in the past 24 hours,
As France struggles to cope in the aftermath of the terror attacks, thousands gathered at massive rallies in Paris on Sunday.
Dignitaries and world leaders attended what government officials are calling a “unity rally” in defiance of the terror rampage.
French officials announced “exceptional measures” to protect not only the throngs gathered near the Place de la Republique in central Paris, but also a veritable who’s who of foreign leaders that will test security forces of a nation rocked by the violence.
Leaders expected to stand with French President Francois Hollande include Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Targeting police officers?
Amedy Coulibaly, the suspect killed in the kosher market hostage siege, is shown in a video circulating on jihadist websites pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Weapons including a rifle serve as a backdrop for the video, and an ISIS flag is prominently displayed during portions of the video.
Coulibaly identifies himself as “Abou Bassir AbdAllah al-Irfiqi” and a “soldier of the Caliphate,” while warning the West, “You attack the Caliph, you attack ISIS, we attack you. You can’t attack and not get back anything in return. ” It’s unclear when all the video was shot.
“The U.S. intelligence community is aware of the video and is reviewing it to determine its authenticity,” said Brian Hale, spokesman for the U.S. director of national intelligence, James Clapper.
According to a source, Coulibaly made several phone calls about targeting police officers in France.
Also Saturday, L’Express magazine reported that the Kouachi brothers had been under watch by the French, but despite red flags, authorities lost interest in them.
L’Express national security reporter Eric Pelletier talked to multiple French officials.
Tipped off by U.S. intelligence agencies that Said Kouachi may have traveled to Yemen, France placed him under surveillance in November 2011 but terminated the scrutiny last year when it deemed him no longer dangerous, officials told Pelletier.
The surveillance of his brother Cherif terminated at the end of 2013 when his phone calls suggested he had disengaged from violent extremism and was focused on counterfeiting clothing and shoes.
Said Kouachi is believed to have trained with al Qaeda in Yemen, a U.S. official told CNN, and a senior Yemeni national security official told CNN that Said Kouachi met with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula loyalists while in Sanaa, the capital.
“Said did meet with al Qaeda loyalists, but there is no proof he met with senior AQAP leaders while in Yemen,” the official told CNN, adding that he had no information indicating the other Kouachi brother had been in Yemen.
French intelligence officials and Paris prosecutor Francois Molins believe there is a strong probability Cherif Kouachi also traveled to Yemen for a short trip in the same year, separately from his brother, Pelletier’s sources told him.
The Kouachi brothers were killed Friday in a shootout with French security forces outside of Paris.
Suspect left for Turkey before attacks
The lone remaining suspect wanted in connection with the terrorism rampage, Hayat Boumeddiene, entered Turkey on January 2, a Turkish Prime Ministry source told CNN. She arrived at the Istanbul airport on a flight from Madrid with a man.
That means she may not have been in France at the time of Thursday’s deadly shooting of a policewoman in Paris, as authorities originally believed. Authorities offered no immediate explanation of the discrepancy, but have said she is wanted in connection with a terrorist attack.
During routine screening of arriving passengers, Boumeddiene and her companion were flagged by Turkey’s Risk Assessment Center at the airport and a decision was made to maintain surveillance on their movements.
The pair checked into a hotel in Istanbul and engaged in “tourist type” activity for a couple of days. When her name was made public by French investigators after the Paris terror attacks, Turkish authorities alerted their French counterparts as to her movements. Turkish agents tracked her to what the official said was her last confirmed location near the Syrian border.
She had a return ticket to Madrid for January 9, but she failed to take her return flight from Istanbul that day, according to an official in the office of Turkey’s Prime Minister.
Arson attack at German newspaper
Meanwhile, an incendiary device was hurled at a German newspaper that reprinted the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. No one was in the building at the time of the attack early Sunday.
The arson attack at the Hamburger Morgenpost occurred about 2 a.m., the newspaper said on its website.
The device was thrown into the archive section of the building, setting it on fire. It’s unclear if the arson attack is connected to the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris last week.
The German paper reprinted Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed after the attack on the satirical magazine’s offices in Paris.