French authorities are on the hunt today for two brothers: Said and Chérif Kouachi, 34 and 32. Police say that those two men are the main suspects in an attack on a satirical magazine in Paris that left 12 people dead.
Here's a round-up of what is known about the two men:
- NPR's Dina Temple-Raston says counterterrorism officials she's talked to have been careful not to link the two men to international terrorist groups.
- Chérif was known to authorities before this attack, because was convicted on terrorism charges in 2008. He served 18 months for helping to funnel fighters from France to Iraq.
What's unclear, says Dina, is what happened to Kouachi since then. It's unclear whether he's ever traveled to Syria and it's unclear whether he had developed links to terrorist groups — including the Islamic State — since 2008.
- Judging by the shot patterns left on a police cruiser yesterday, what is clear is that these two men were very comfortable using high-powered weapons. It's likely, Dina said, that they received some military training. The question is where.
- Quoting French media, The New York Times paints this early portrait of Chérif:
"Libération, a French newspaper, described Chérif Kouachi as an orphan whose parents were Algerian immigrants. It said he was raised in foster care in Rennes, in western France, and trained as a fitness instructor before moving to Paris, where he lived with his brother Said in the home of a convert to Islam. He held menial jobs, working at times as a pizza delivery man, shop assistant and fishmonger.
"He was first arrested in 2005 in connection with a case centered on Farid Benyettou, a 26-year-old janitor-turned-preacher who gave sermons calling for jihad in Iraq and justifying suicide bombings. Among Mr. Benyettou's would-be recruits was Chérif Kouachi, then 22, who was detained as he prepared to leave for Syria, the first leg of a trip he hoped would take him to Iraq."
- Bloomberg reports that Chérif was arrested in 2010 for "suspected involvement in plotting the escape of one of the masterminds of bombings and terrorist attacks in 1995 that killed eight people and injured more than 200, according to police reports."
Citing Le Monde, Bloomberg adds that prosecutors decided to drop the case after holding Chérif for about four months.