Paris Attack Suspect Trained with Al-Qaeda in Yemen: US Officials
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Said Kouachi, one of the two brothers being sought by French authorities in the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine, traveled to Yemen in 2011 to be trained by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, two senior US counterterrorism officials said.
The training lasted for several months, one of the officials told NBC News on Thursday.
No other details were immediately available, but the disclosure added to the evidence that Kouachi, 34, and his brother Cherif, 32, had been on counterterrorism agencies' radar for several years before the attack Wednesday that killed 12 people at the Paris-based satirical weekly.
A Homeland Security official told NBC News separately on Thursday that the brothers had been in the US terrorism database and on the US no-fly list "for years."
Cherif Kouachi, in fact, was sentenced to prison in 2008 after a Paris court found him and six other men guilty of helping funnel fighters to Iraq, raising the question of why the Kouachi brothers escaped the attention of authorities before the attack.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters that both were "being watched over, but there were no elements at the time to warrant starting an inquiry."
Cherif Kouachi's trial in 2008 began after years of investigation. Authorities said at the time that a militant network had funneled about a dozen French fighters to camps linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and sought to send more before Zarqawi was killed in a US airstrike in 2006.