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Authorities Search For 2 Suspects In Paris Attack


At this hour, the two brothers suspected of being the killers in the attack on a Paris satirical magazine are still at large. And on the web, a new slogan has joined I am Charlie. People are posting, I am Ahmed, in honor of one of the policeman who was shot dead and who was a Muslim, as were the suspects. To find out more about them, NPR's Dina Temple-Raston is joining us. She's following the investigation. Good morning.


MONTAGNE: Well, tell us the latest news.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, the story is moving very quickly. I mean, late last night, French police released the names and photographs of those two brothers you mentioned. They identified them as Said and Cherif Ouachi. Both were born in Paris. They're thought to be of Algerian descent and, as you said, they're Muslim.

A third man, an 18-year-old named Hamyd Mourad, was also implicated in the attack. He walked into a police station about 145 miles northeast of Paris early this morning Paris time, and he surrendered. So police are questioning him, and we've been told that there have been several other people brought in for questioning. But it's unclear if they're just family members or if they're part of the attack itself. There's also been some police activity around Reims and around apartment buildings in Paris this morning but so far, no new arrests.

MONTAGNE: Well, just quickly, the one who turned himself in, there was some talk of saying that he turned himself in, but he didn't do it.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Yes, it's unclear. This has not been confirmed by officials that, in fact, he had nothing to do with this at all. We do know that there was a video that was released, an amateur video that showed only two gunmen, not a third person. But again, it's very sketchy right now.

MONTAGNE: OK and lots of talk swirling around about their links - possible links to other groups. Al-Qaida at one point seemed to come up. What do we know about that?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, one of them, Cherif Ouachi, was known to both French and U.S. officials. He was convicted in 2008 on terrorism charges in France. And what he was doing is he was helping funnel fighters to Iraq. He was sentenced to three years. He served 18 months. But this was back in 2008, this was before the so-called Islamic State. So it's unclear what terrorist connections he has now.

U.S. officials are trying to track phone calls and emails related to him, but they haven't released any information yet. And I was talking about this amateur video - the amateur video shows that these men were very familiar with weapons. They appear to have had some military training. But we don't know if that means that they've traveled to Syria or Iraq and fought or whether they were just good with weapons for some other reason.

MONTAGNE: Well, not knowing any of this yet, there's no, obviously, knowledge about what - whether they were directed by a group or simply inspired by a group. I mean, any sense of that though?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, counterterrorism officials have been really careful not to link them to any particular group, and no group has taken credible responsibility. That said, there've been literally thousands of Europeans who have traveled in the past couple of years to fight in the Syrian civil war. Literally, hundreds of Frenchmen have gone there as well. So the concern for some time has been that they would return to Europe and launch a terrorist attack there. But officials haven't necessarily said they think that happened here. Cherif Ouachi has connections to al-Qaida in the past, but it's unclear if he still does.

MONTAGNE: And, just briefly, the New York Police Department has raised its terror alert level. Is that related to these killings?

TEMPLE-RASTON: It is. They are concerned about copycat attacks. They have raised the level of terrorism alert here. They have put extra police on the street, and they've also got police in front of the French consulate here.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Dina Temple-Raston covers national security. Thanks very much.

TEMPLE-RASTON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Dina Temple-Raston is a correspondent on NPR's Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories and national security, technology and social justice.