9 Jan 2015

Buttes Chaumont’ network behind Paris attacks

A suspect in the killing of a policewoman and supermarket hostage taking in Paris, and suspects in the Charlie Hebdo murders, are reported to be part of the same jihadi network in Paris.

The suspect in the murder of a policewoman yesterday and hostage taking at a kosher supermarket today was a member of the same jihadi group as the suspects of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper murders.

The men are reported by French media today to all be part of the “Buttes Chaumont” terror group, named after a park in France’s 19th district, also known as the 19th network or the “Nineteenth Arrondissement Iraqi Networks”.

Amedy Coulibaly, suspected of murdering of a policewoman yesterday and hostage taking today, was jailed in 2010 for taking part in an attempt to break out of jail Smaïn Aït Ali Belkacem, an Algerian terrorist behind the 1995 Paris metro bombing that killed eight people.

Cherif Kouachi, a member of the group and a suspect in the Charlie Hebdo killings, was also investigated over the jail-break plot, but was not sentenced.

Police today said that Coulibaly has links to the Kouachi brothers, the gunmen involved in the Charlie Hebdo killing.

Kalashnikov bullets were said to have been found at Coulibaly’s home during the investigation into the jail break plot.

Said and Cherif Kouachi are known members of the group, with Cherif Kouachi jailed in 2008 for his part in the group sending men to fight in Iraq.

French radio station RTL also said today that it was thought that Coulibaly was part of the Buttes Chaumont group with the Kouachi brothers in 2004-05. Other media report that they may have met in prison.

What is the ‘Buttes Chaumont’ terror group?

Buttes Chaumont is a name taken from the park where a group of like-minded radical French-Algerians met and did physical training.

The group’s main aim was to facilitate sending men to fight against US coalition forces in Iraq. The group also has connections to al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Kouachi was reported in a French television report video to have said he was radicalised by the self-taught preacher Farid Benyettou, who was jailed alongside him.

Benyettou, a former janitor, is considered to be the spiritual leader of the group, who radicalised Cherif in a matter of months.

Cherif says Benyettou told him that “the scriptures offered proof of the goodness of suicide attacks. It is written in the scriptures that it’s good to die a martyr”.

Other members of the group include Peter Cherif and Cheikhou Diakhabi, who were captured by US forces in Iraq, while Tarek Ouinis was killed and Mohamed el-Ayouni was detained in Syria before being sent back to France.

Redaoune el-Hakim and Abdelhalim Badjoudj were killed in a suicide attack in Iraq, while Thamer Bouchnak is alleged to have participated in helping pay for men to go to fight in Iraq.

Le Point newspaper in Paris reported that the Buttes Chaumont group may have reactivated after being dismantled by authorities in 2005.

Video from Pièces à Conviction, France 3, translated by Channel 4 News, on Charif’s radicalisation: