Two charged over links to Paris kosher market terrorist
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Two charged over links to Paris kosher market terrorist

DNA implicates duo’s connection to Amedy Coulibaly, one of three gunmen who terrorized French capital in January

Amedy Coulibaly, who was shot dead by French police after he killed four French Jews in a kosher store on January 9, 2015, is seen in a video clip pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. (YouTube screenshot)
Amedy Coulibaly, who was shot dead by French police after he killed four French Jews in a kosher store on January 9, 2015, is seen in a video clip pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. (YouTube screenshot)

PARIS — Two men with ties to one of the three gunmen who terrorized Paris in January were handed preliminary charges Friday, the Paris prosecutor said, describing hundreds of texts, regular meetings and DNA recovered from a stun gun among the belongings at a bloodied kosher supermarket.

The two men, identified as Amar R. and Said M., were given preliminary charges for participation in a terrorist group with the intent to commit crime.

Prosecutors said Amar R., a jailhouse acquaintance of Paris terrorist Amedy Coulibaly, had exchanged more than 600 texts with Coulibaly from September to January and met him on January 5 and January 6. That was just a day before two brothers killed 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper in Paris on January 7 and before Coulibaly shot dead a policewoman on January 8 and killed four of his hostages a day later at a Paris kosher grocery store.

DNA from Said M. was recovered from a stun gun in Coulibaly’s belongings at the market, the prosecutor said.

A photo taken on January 9, 2015 shows members of the French police forces taking position by the kosher grocery store in Saint-Mande, near Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris, where a gunman opened fire at the kosher grocery store and took at least five people hostage, sources told AFP. (Photo credit: AFP / ERIC FEFERBERG)
A photo taken on January 9, 2015 shows members of the French police forces taking position by the kosher grocery store in Saint-Mande, near Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris, where a gunman opened fire at the kosher grocery store and took at least five people hostage, sources told AFP. (Photo credit: AFP / ERIC FEFERBERG)

Said M. and Amar R. contacted each other more than 1,200 times between February 2014 and January 2015 and saw each other regularly, the prosecutor said. The statement said the two men destroyed their telephone microchips on January 9, the day Coulibaly and brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi were killed in separate standoffs with French security forces.

Two other people taken into custody at the same time, including a policewoman who was in a relationship with one of the suspects, were released, the prosecutor said. They had also been suspected of links with Coulibaly.

Europe 1 radio reported that the kosher grocery was expected to reopen Sunday for the first time since the attacks. The printing office where the Kouachi brothers holed up for hours before coming out shooting at police remains closed.

In a posthumous video, Coulibaly claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group, but it is not known who edited and released the footage. His widow left France days before the attacks and is believed to be in Syria.

The Kouachis claimed the attacks for al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, where one of the brothers is believed to have traveled for paramilitary training with the terror group. But no one with any ties to the brothers has been charged. Investigators are trying to unravel how the three men orchestrated the attacks — and whether they had help — in the months since Coulibaly’s release from prison in March 2014 and the end of French surveillance of the brothers, sometime in July 2014.

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