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Police in France are still in the throes of a massive manhunt to track down the two suspects connected to the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices that left 12 people dead.

Officials may catch a break, the AFP reports. The two men — brothers who were identified by authorities as Said and Cherif Kouachi — were spotted near the small town of Villers-Cotterêts in northern France. Two men fitting the brothers’ description stole gas and food from a station in the town Thursday morning.

A third suspect, Mourad Hamyd, surrendered to authorities on Wednesday. Hamyd, 18, is also the youngest of the three and said to be the driver of the getaway car.

From the NYT:

According to the authorities, the third and youngest suspect, Hamyd Mourad, 18, drove the getaway car. Mr. Mourad turned himself in late Wednesday at a police station in Charleville-Mézières in northern France. Le Point, a leading French newsmagazine, said that the two brothers had both been known by the intelligence services, and that Mr. Mourad was unemployed. It said that the police had identified the suspects after one left his identification papers in the abandoned Citroën vehicle used to escape after the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

The Kouachi brothers, both in their early 30s, are still on the run. Both brothers are French citizens, but returned from Syria in the summer. It’s still unclear if they have connections with any international terrorist groups.

Here’s what we know about them so far:

CHERIF KOUACHI (pictured left)

– Cherif, 32, has already spent time in jail for terrorism connections and is known to French intelligence services. In 2005, he was arrested as he was preparing to trek to Iraq by way of Syria.

– He was arrested again in 2008 and sentenced to three years in prison for being part of a jihadist recruitment ring in Paris. He didn’t spend much time behind bars — authorities determined he spent enough time in pre-trial detention.

– In court after his 2005 arrest, Cherif told the court that he was “motivated by American troops’ abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.” He reportedly said this to the judge about his arrest: “The closer the departure got, the more I wanted to turn back,” he told the judge, according to Le Monde. “But if I chickened out, I was in danger of looking like a coward.”

– And in 2010, Cherif was charged again in connection with a plot to break out Smain Ait Ali Belkacem, an Algerian Islamist imprisoned for bombing a Paris commuter rail station in 1995, according to CNN. Charges were later dropped.


– Said, 34, was also a part of the 2010 prison-break case, according to French police. There was not, however, any evidence to tie him down in the case. An investigation was called off.

– He’s managed to keep a low profile, unlike his brother, and police are currently investigating if he has any connections with international terrorist groups.

Another shooting during the manhunt, involving a policewoman who died as a result, is raising questions about the three suspects. The Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve urged the public not to immediately link the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the fatal shooting of the policewoman.

An investigation continues.


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