Highlights of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015

CNN Editorial Research

Here is an overview of the January 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. From January 7 to 9, a total of 17 people were killed in attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a kosher grocery store, and the Paris suburb of Montrouge. Three suspects in the attacks were killed by police in separate clashes. On December 16, 2020, a French court found guilty 14 accomplices of the French Islamist militants behind the attacks.


Charlie Hebdo magazine began publishing in 1970 with the aim of satirizing religion, politics, and other subjects. Most of the employees were from the Hara-Kiri publication, which was banned after mocking the death of former President Charles de Gaulle.

The Charlie in the title refers to Charlie Brown from the cartoon Peanuts. Hebdo is the abbreviation of weekly, which means weekly, in French.

The magazine ceased publication in the 1980s due to a lack of funds. It resumed publication in 1992.

In 2006, Charlie Hebdo reprinted controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that originally appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. French President Jacques Chirac criticized the decision and called it a “manifest provocation”.

In 2011, the magazine’s offices were destroyed by a petrol bomb after it published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

Profiles of the seventeen victims.

The suspects

Cherif Kouachi:
– Born in France, of Algerian origin.
– During his clash with the police, Cherif Kouachi told CNN affiliate BFMTV that he trained in Yemen with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
– He also told BFMTV that during this time he met Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Muslim who was the face of AQAP until he was killed in 2011 during an American drone strike.

Said Kouachi:
– Born in France, of Algerian origin.
– From 2009, Kouachi traveled frequently to Yemen, spending months there in a row.
– US officials said that in 2011, Kouachi received training in weapons handling and worked with AQAP.

Amédée Coulibaly:
– Born in France, of Senegalese origin.
– Arrested in 2010 for attempting to free an Algerian serving a sentence for a 1995 metro bombing and spent some time in prison. Cherif Kouachi was under investigation for the same conspiracy, but there was not enough evidence to charge him.
– Before being killed by the police, Coulibaly reportedly told CNN affiliate BFMTV by phone that he belonged to ISIS.

Hayat Boumeddiene:
– Born in France, of Algerian origin.
– Coulibaly’s girlfriend.
– Initially, it was believed that she had participated in the shooting of a policewoman in Montrouge and the subsequent attack on a kosher grocery store.
– However, a source from the Turkish Prime Ministry told CNN that Boumeddiene entered Turkey on January 2, arriving at Istanbul airport on a flight from Madrid with a man. She had a return ticket to Madrid for January 9, but she did not catch her return flight from Istanbul that day.
– In addition, a French source close to the country’s security services said that it was believed that Boumeddiene was no longer in France and that she would have left for Turkey, “of course to reach Syria”.
– Paris prosecutor François Molins said Boumedienne and Cherif Kouachi’s wife also knew each other well, saying they had exchanged 500 phone calls in 2014.

– In 2020, Boumeddiene is tried in absentia and found guilty of financing terrorism and belonging to a criminal terrorist network.


January 7, 2015 –
At around 11:30 am, armed men forcibly entered the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris. The attackers reportedly said they were avenging the Prophet Muhammad and shouting “Allahu akbar”, which translates to “God is great”, according to Molins.

– Twelve people are killed: Eight employees, a guest of the magazine, a maintenance worker and a police officer are killed.

– After fleeing the building, the armed men meet another policeman in the street and shoot him at point blank range.

– Later in the day, the expression “Je Suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) starts to be trending on social networks. Thousands of Parisians take to the streets to organize a vigil for the victims.

January 8, 2015 –
РThe police name the main suspects, the Cherif brothers and Said Kouachi. The police are looking for them in a district north-east of Paris, near Villers-Cotter̻ts.

– One killed: an armed man dressed in the same way as those in the Charlie Hebdo attack, all in black and wearing a bulletproof vest, shoots and kills a policewoman in the Paris suburb of Montrouge.

– The Kouachi brothers steal food and gasoline from a gas station near Villers-Cotterets, according to a gas station attendant.

– A US law enforcement official told CNN that the two Kouachi brothers were on a US database of known or suspected international terrorists known as TIDE and have also been on the no-fly list since years.

– In the evening, the Eiffel Tower goes out briefly in memory of the victims.

January 9, 2015 –
– Four people are killed: In the morning, French police and special forces surround a building in Dammartin-en-Goele, north-east of Paris, where the Kouachi brothers are hiding with a hostage.

– In the afternoon, an armed man enters a kosher grocery store at Porte de Vincennes in the Paris suburbs, taking people hostage. The shooter is identified as Coulibaly. The police also link him to the Montrouge attack. His alleged accomplice, Boumeddiene, is also identified. Officials say Coulibaly killed four hostages in the grocery store.

– Around 5 p.m., the police launched an assault on the building in Dammartin-en-Goele, where the Kouachi brothers were hiding. The brothers are killed.

– Shortly after, the police launched an operation against Coulibaly at the kosher grocery store. Four hostages are killed and fifteen are rescued. Coulibaly is also killed.

January 11, 2015 –
РAcross France, around 3.7 million people march in anti-terrorism rallies. In Paris, 40 world leaders, including French President Fran̤ois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and British Prime Minister David Cameron parade with a crowd of 1, 5 million people.

January 13, 2015 –
– Funeral services are organized in Israel for the four hostages killed in the kosher market. Netanyahu attends.

– Hollande presents the Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest French distinction, posthumously to the three police officers killed in the attacks, during a commemorative ceremony at the Paris Police Prefecture.

– Bulgaria arrests Frenchman Fritz-Joly Joachin under a European arrest warrant, citing suspected links to terrorists and a possible link with the Kouachi brothers.

January 14, 2015 –
– Charlie Hebdo is releasing a new edition of its magazine, with a caricature of the Muslim prophet Mohammed on the cover, holding a sign that says “I am Charlie”.

– AQAP claims the operation carried out on Charlie Hebdo.

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