Amédy Coulibaly, the terrorist who last week killed a police officer and four Jewish French citizens in a Paris kosher supermarket, was in Madrid along with his wife for three days over the New Year holiday, a French TV station and a Spanish terrorism investigative source both confirmed.
Coulibaly, 32, was in the Spanish capital with his wife, Hayat Bouméddiene, who is now wanted by authorities, days before traveling back to Paris to carry out his attacks. He was killed on January 9 in a shootout with police in the grocery store where he had taken a large number of hostages.
Spanish High Court Judge Eloy Velasco has opened an investigation into the visit to Spain made by Coulibaly, his wife and a third person reportedly with them, who may have helped Boumeddiene flee to Syria. Judge Velasco has already received a police report concerning their stay.
Speaking on a morning program on Spanish broadcaster TVE, Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Diaz declined to comment on the new information. “I can’t and must not say anything,” he said.
French anti-terrorism sources have confirmed that they are investigating Coulibaly’s stopover in Madrid. According to them, Coulibaly arrived in the Spanish capital by car along with his wife and another man on December 31.
Investigators are trying to determine where the three stayed, and whether they received help while in Madrid. So far, they have been unable to trace any telephone calls they made from Spain.
A source close to the investigation told French M6 TV that Coulibaly arrived in Madrid in a car that he had purchased before the trip. The couple stayed in Spain until January 2, when Bouméddiene took a flight to Istanbul and Coulibaly drove back to Paris.
Bouméddiene stayed on the Asian side of Istanbul for several days, then is thought to have crossed over into Syria on January 8, the same day that Coulibaly began his deadly attacks.
In images taken by a surveillance camera at Istanbul passport control, Bouméddiene is seen in the company of an unidentified bearded man of French-Algerian origin. This man’s brother was arrested in July 2014 for belonging to a jihadist recruitment network that sent combatants to Syria, according to sources. M6 TV also reported that authorities saw Bouméddiene cross over into Syria on January 8.
French investigators are focusing their inquiry on the travel routes Coulibaly and his wife took before the attack to determine whether they had any accomplices.