Suspicion of the attackers in the Wednesday strike on a satirical Paris magazine has centered around a pair of brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, French-born men born to Algerian parents.A third named suspect, 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad, has turned himself in but appears to have an alibi.
The two were said to have been on police radar for many years, and Cherif had even been convicted terrorism charges, given three years in prison, half of it a suspended sentence.
It is unclear which group the two were fighting with when they went to Syria, though there were reports from eyewitnesses who said the gunmen had identified themselves as being with “Yemeni al-Qaeda,” suggesting they may have been somehow affiliated with al-Nusra, the primary al-Qaeda faction in Syria.
The Syria connection will inevitably raise further concerns about the many thousands of Europeans who have gone to Syria to join ISIS, Nusra, and other Islamist factions, and what will happen when they begin returning en masse.
The Kouachi brothers were even known risks, and known to have returned recently form Syria, and if they prove to be guilty that means they were still able to carry out a massive attack. With many of the others totally unidentified, their ability to launch attacks will be all the greater.