France’s 'most-wanted woman' absent from 2015 Paris attacks trial

The January 2015 attacks in Paris, where no less than 17 people lost their lives, were claimed by the Islamic state.

Hayat Boumeddiene (photo credit: screenshot)
Hayat Boumeddiene
(photo credit: screenshot)
As France is preparing on Wednesday for the opening of the trial of the January 2015 attacks that will run until November 10, more than five years after the events, one absence among the suspects is to be deplored: that of Hayat Boumeddiene.
The wife of Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four people in the 2015 Hypercacher Kosher Supermarket siege before being killed himself, she is also known as “France’s most-wanted woman.”
The only woman among the 14 accused, she has been on the run for five years. Seen in Syria shortly after the attacks, then presumed dead a few months later, she was reportedly seen in the Al-Hol camp in Syria only a few months ago.
The brothers Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine, who helped Boumeddiene flee to Syria, will also be absent from the trial. Mohamed was alleged to have been Coulibaly’s mentor and the author an “oath of allegiance” to ISIS that was adopted by the terrorist cell.
Some 14 suspects, including two who are presumed dead, will be judged starting Wednesday.

While the Belhoucine brothers are believed to have been killed in Syria in 2016, the most recent reports suggest that Boumeddiene is still alive, and was reportedly last seen in October 2019 at the Al-Hol refugee camp after being taken captive by the Syrian Democratic Forces.
An unidentified woman returning from Syria who spotted her told French intelligence that Boumeddiene escaped undetected from Al-Hol with a new identity soon afterward, in the company of other female jihadis.
The January 2015 attacks in Paris were claimed by the Islamic state. No less than 17 people lost their lives in the three days of  attacks: 12 at the headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7, one policewoman on January 8 and another four at the kosher supermarket in eastern Paris on January 9.
Boumeddiene is alleged to have played a central role in planning the attacks. Traces of her DNA were found on weapons being stored by Coulibaly at a house near Paris, while prosecutors also discovered that she had made more than 500 phone calls to Izzana Hamyd, the wife of Chérif Kouachi, one of the two brothers at the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Kouachi and his brother Saïd, two armed brothers who were the principal perpetrators of the attacks, and their friend Coulibaly, were all killed by police during the attacks.
Boumeddiene first flew to Turkey a few days prior the attacks, with the help of the brothers Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucineto, who were later accused of helping organize the attacks. She then crossed into Syrian territory which was controlled at that time by the ISIS terrorist organization.
She was located less than a month after the attacks, thanks to an interview she gave at the time to an ISIS propaganda outlet called “May France be cursed by Allah.”
In the months following the attacks, the anti-terrorism police intercepted calls between Boumeddiene and one of her best friends located in Paris, during which the terrorist declared: "I'm better here than in France, if you knew what's here, wallah… I 'm in a house like I've never seen in my life; they take care of me like I'm a princess."
She continued, saying: "They are taking precautions for my safety," defining “they” as ISIS.
She is still subject to an arrest warrant and will be tried in absentia if she is not arrested by the end of the trial, which begins on Wednesday, September 2, before the Paris Assize Court specially made up of anti-terrorism magistrates.
The remaining defendants who will be present in the courtroom on Wednesday include Ali Riza Polat, 35, a French citizen of Turkish origin who was said to be Coulibaly's “right-hand man,” and Willy Prévost, who helped Coulibaly obtain the vehicle he drove to the Hypercacher market.
The other suspects – Nezar Mickaël Pastor Alwatik, Amar Ramdani, Saïd Makhlouf, Mohamed-Amine Fares, Michel Catino, Abdelaziz Abbad, Miguel Martinez and Metin Karasular – are accused of providing varying degrees of support to the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly.