After one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in France in over 40 years, the police have intensified their manhunt for two brothers suspected to have carried out the attack on Charlie Hebdo newspaper after the third suspect surrendered himself to police in the French town of Charleville-Mezieres, about 2 miles north of Paris.
The two brothers suspected to have carried out the attacks are currently on the loose, and they have been identified as Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, two relatives both in their 30s, and the third suspect who later surrendered to police is Hamyd Mourad, 18.
The trio was believed to have ties to Al Qaeda, and they had attacked Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper that publishes content that many Muslims consider as offensive to their religion. Armed with sophisticated weapons, two of the assailants had gone into the office of Charlie Hebdo and reeled out the names of their targets before shooting them execution style, while the third had remained outside to man the premises. Twelve people had been murdered, including a policeman – before the three men hijacked a car and fled the scene.
French police say the two brothers are “on the loose, armed and dangerous,” and are intensifying efforts to apprehend them with the third suspect, Mourad, helping the police in the investigations.
One of the fleeing brothers, Cherif Kouachi, 34, along with six others had been sentenced in May 2008 to 3 years imprisonment for terrorism – they had recruited over a dozen young Frenchmen to join the Al Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in Iraq. Kouachi has been listed in private database by other security agencies.
One of the attackers had screamed “Allahu Akbar” meaning “God is great” in Arabic as revealed by video footage from the scene. This is not the first time the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo had been attacked.
French president Francois Hollande said “This is a terrorist operation against an office that has been threatened several times, which is why it was protected.” It was firebombed in 2011 and its website was hacked when it published a satirical picture of Prophet Mohammed. The newspaper was once again attacked about a year later and Muslims from around the world declared fatwa against the operators after they published a crude picture of Mohammed.