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Investigators Focus On 4 Suspects In Paris Terrorist Attacks


We are learning more about the four people French and U.S. authorities believe were behind last week's terror attacks in Paris. Seventeen people were killed, including policemen, shoppers at a kosher grocery store and some of France's most famous cartoonists and editors. Authorities are trying to understand the people behind the attacks, who might've sent them and whether there are other terrorists who may strike next. Meanwhile, France is mobilizing 10,000 soldiers to beef up security in the country. NPR's counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston has been covering this story, and she joins us online from Paris now. Dina, good morning.


GREENE: So a lot of news about these four people who've been linked to these attacks over the weekend. What are we learning now?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, there were two big developments. The first was news that a possible fourth accomplice - a 26-year-old woman named Hayat Boumedienne - may have left France. Turkish officials are saying that someone with her passport came into Turkey, heading for Syria, on January 2. And then today the Turkish government has said that they think she passed into Syria January 8, which would've been a day after the initial attacks. And that would change a lot of what we thought we knew about her role. Authorities thought she had been at the police shooting and possibly at the kosher supermarket siege. Now officials are looking to see if what she actually did was help with the planning of the attacks but left before they were actually carried out.

GREENE: OK, you talk about the attack at the kosher supermarket, and there was some news about the man who took hostages there because there's this videotape that's been released on YouTube, right?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Right, this is a videotape of Amedy Coulibaly. Police have determined that he was a friend of the two brothers who are thought to be behind the shootings at Charlie Hebdo, a magazine, last Wednesday. And the videotape was clearly made over the course of some days after the attacks had started. It's a little over seven minutes long, and authorities believe that Coulibaly is in fact the person in the videotape. And he admits to a connection with the Kouachi brothers and it's in French and his voice is very calm. And he pledges his allegiance into the so-called Islamic State and to its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But it's hard to tell and authorities are looking at this - whether his connections to the so-called Islamic State are virtual - just on the Internet - or whether he actually trained with the group in Syria. U.S. officials have been scouring travel records to see if he might've gone to Syria, but so - or even Iraq - but so far they haven't come up with anything.

GREENE: Well, speaking of looking for connections, the two brothers - the two gunmen - at the satirical publication, I mean, they are now saying that they are members of - were members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. What is that?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Right, also known as this group AQAP. In this case, U.S. officials are sure that Said Kouachi, the older brother, spent time in Yemen training with AQAP, but they've yet to find any sort of evidence that his younger brother, Cherif, did. Now, Cherif claimed in a radio interview in France that he'd been sent by AQAP and that this whole operation was financed by the American-born, now dead, radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, but officials haven't been able to verify that claim either.

GREENE: All right, Dina, we'll have to stop there. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston is NPR's counterterrorism correspondent. She joins us from Paris. Dina, thank you.

TEMPLE-RASTON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Dina Temple-Raston is a correspondent on NPR's Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories and national security, technology and social justice.