US officials were asked to identify handler of Paris kosher store killer


(JTA) — American officials were asked to identify a person whom they believe helped the Islamist radical who planned and carried out the deadly siege at a Paris kosher supermarket.

A day before Amedy Coulibaly took more than 20 hostages and killed four of them, all Jews, at the Hyper Cacher in January, he received an email from an unknown individual with instructions to contact a third party or parties with the code name “zigotos,” the BFMTV station reported Tuesday based on documents it obtained.

The interlocutor, described by some French media as Coulibaly’s handler, provided an email address associated with a communications firm in Pennsylvania, the French news agency AFP reported. That information prompted the contact by French judges with U.S. authorities; the report did not name the officials or who they worked for.

“Work alone. Go for the easiest, the surest and most numerous. Maybe in the [city] edges in case of problems in the center. You know best,” one set of instructions transmitted to Coulibaly read.

From other segments of correspondence, researchers believe the correspondent, who used basic French with some grammatical errors, was based outside France, BFMTV reported.

The Jan. 9 attack on the Hyper Cacher occurred shortly after the murder of 12 individuals by two other jihadists at the Paris headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper. Coulibaly was believed to have been in contact with the perpetrators of that attack and to have planned his action to take place shortly after theirs.

The Charlie Hebdo killers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, escaped the scene of their attack and were killed on Jan. 9 when French counterterrorism agents simultaneously stormed their hideout and the Hyper Cacher. Coulibaly also was killed in the takeover.

Recommended from JTA