Court documents stemming from 2005 arrest show Cherif Kouachi's interest in jihad
Security forces kill Kouachi and brother after standoff over Paris terror attacks
Documents: Kouachi wanted to travel to Iraq via Syria "to go and combat the Americans"
Editor’s Note: This story is based on court documents that CNN obtained in conjunction with French newsmagazine L’Express.
One of the two main terrorists accused in this week’s attacks in Paris had a long history of jihad and anti-Semitism, according to court documents that CNN obtained in conjunction with French newsmagazine L’Express.
In a 400-page court record, Cherif Kouachi was described as wanting to travel to Iraq through Syria “to go and combat the Americans.”
On Friday, security forces surrounded and killed Kouachi, 32, and his older brother, Said, 34, in Dammartin-en-Goele, France, the town’s mayor said. The Kouachi brothers were wanted in Wednesday’s massacre at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris that left 12 people dead.
In the 2007 French court documents, Cherif Kouachi stated in a deposition, “I was ready to go and die in battle,” and “I got this idea when I saw the injustices shown by television on what was going on over there. I am speaking about the torture that the Americans have inflicted on the Iraqis.”
The court documents – dated December 2007 – stem from a 2005 arrest. They say Cherif Kouachi was raised in orphanages and foster homes from a young age, and became involved in a group in Paris’ 19th arrondissement. He was arrested with other young men from that part of Paris for a conspiracy to go to Iraq and fight as jihadists.
In the documents, prosecutors outlined strong details of Kouachi’s interest in jihad, interest in martyrdom and strong links to anti-Semitism, attacking and killing Jews.
Kouachi stated he came to the idea of jihad through Farid Benyettou, a well-known spiritual leader who’s been long associated in France with supporting jihad and terrorism, and is associated with a mosque in the 19th arrondissement.
Through Benyettou, Kouachi was studying how to wield arms and use Kalashnikovs. Under a section titled “Motivations of Influence” describing Kouachi, court records said he stated “the wise leaders in Islam told him and his friends that if they die as martyrs in jihad they would go to heaven” and “that martyrs would be greeted by more than 60 virgins in a big palace in heaven.”
The documents also said, “(F)or him any place on earth where there is such an injustice is justification for jihad; what was going on Iraq was in his eyes such an injustice.”
The mosque, called La Mosquee de Stalingrad, has since been demolished and appears to be under construction.
Court records show Kouachi said he didn’t consider himself a good enough Muslim, and said he had only been to the mosque two or three times before he met Benyettou, and he had been smoking cannabis.
Kouachi told investigators he committed himself to the idea of jihad during Ramadan in 2004. He told his friends he was going to Syria to fight.
The documents say when police interviewed his accomplices they stated that Kouachi “said he was ready to firebomb and to destroy Jewish shops in Paris.”
When officials confronted Kouachi with that information, he told them “that’s not exactly what I said. … I don’t hide having proposed anti-Semitic ideas, but I would note that I never really would have done that.”