Evidence that Coulibaly’s wife may have fled to Syria before killings

Hayat Boumeddiene thought to have arrived at Istanbul January 2nd, Turkish officials say

Hayat Boumeddiene (26), the most wanted remaining suspect in connection with the Charlie Hebdo killings, may have fled to Syria in the days before her partner, Amedy Coulibaly, killed a policewoman and four civilians in a kosher supermarket.

Turkish counter-terrorism work indicates that Ms Boumeddiene may now be in Syria, possibly in territory held by the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis.

She is thought to have arrived at Istanbul on a flight from Madrid on January 2nd, Turkish officials say. Turkey subsequently sent photos from Istanbul airport to French authorities that appeared to confirm her identity.

Phone signal traced

A signal from her phone on January 8th was traced to Akcakale, a Turkish town bordering Isis-held territory in Syria, but there was no subsequent signal.

There is no clear indication she is in Syria, but the border is porous and Isis sympathisers have been reported to be in the Akcakale area in Turkey.

The development is the latest piece of evidence hinting at a connection between the Paris atrocities and jihadist organisations abroad.

French counter-intelligence are analysing a video in which Coulibaly sits by a printed-out image of an Isis flag and justifies the killings as retaliation for French military interventions overseas.

A French prosecutor said tests on shell cases from the shooting of a jogger in Paris on the same day as the Charlie Hebdo massacre linked them to a gun used by Coulibaly at the kosher store.

Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen has claimed responsibility for the attack on Charlie Hebdo by Cherif and Said Kouachi, saying it was to avenge the honour of the Prophet Muhammad, a frequent target of the magazine's satire.

"We know that Cherif Kouachi has stayed in Yemen in 2011 and that he has in his circle jihadist terrorists known for having been trained in Yemen whom we know are . . . in Yemen and Syria," François Molins, Paris prosecutor, said.

Police have found Ms Boumeddiene was linked to the Kouachis and last year made more than 500 calls to Cherif’s wife, Mr Molins said. She married Coulibaly in 2009 and can be seen in pictures on the internet wearing a black niqab.

Turkish officials say they were not informed she was a person of interest until January 9th – they were previously unaware of her name – and add that there is no indication that the three chief perpetrators of the Paris attacks, now all dead, passed through Turkey.

– (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2015)