I held off on posting on the situation in France for a while this morning because I had hoped to be able to report that the entire situation was resolved by now. Unfortunately that is not the case. We had extensive coverage of the progress in the terror attacks in France yesterday, and many of the to-do list items for the French were crossed off in impressively short order. As I predicted in the initial thread, the French went in with a tremendous show of force and brought the three men responsible for the two hostage situations to room temperature in comparatively little time, particularly given how tenuous the locations were in terms of protecting as many of the hostages as possible. Unfortunately, while the men were taken down, there was one more accomplice who apparently slipped away. The girlfriend of Amedy Coulibaly, Hayat Boumeddiene, was allegedly with him at the Kosher grocery but slipped away in the confusion and is on the run.
Police are hunting for Hayat Boumeddiene, 26. She is the girlfriend of one of the slain gunmen, Amedy Coulibaly. On Friday, he had bolted into a kosher supermarket in Paris and taken customers and staff hostage for several hours…
Security remains at its highest level, as authorities search for Boumeddiene and explore the terrorists’ links to each other and to Islamist extremist groups.
Authorities said France will remain on high alert, as new details emerged about the attackers. Reports from Yemen indicate al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper that killed a dozen people on Wednesday. U.S. and Yemeni officials reportedly believe one of the assailants, Said Kouachi, either trained or fought alongside the group in 2011. A-P also reports that a militant cleric has threatened more attacks.
Given the circumstances, I’m hesitant to level too much criticism at the French police, even if these reports are true. Allegedly, Boumeddiene was in the store, but when the security forces moved in and the hostages began exiting the store, she may have slipped out with them. If this were an FBI operation in the United States, one of the most basic rules of engagement would have been to corral every one of the hostages, not only to see if they needed medical attention, but to question them and make sure that precisely this sort of thing didn’t happen. But in the midst of an Islamic terrorist attack which was taking place simultaneously at multiple locations, I suppose mistakes can happen.
The even more alarming challenge the French seem to be facing right now highlights the problems that arise from their “open borders” policy with the rest of the European Union. As every network is reporting this morning, assuming Boumeddiene had access to a car, she could drive from Paris all the way to Turkey without encountering a single border stop where she might be picked up during routine border examination. One look at the map shows the number of countries she might be in by now, each with their own varying levels of “cooperation” in terms of fighting Islamic terrorism.
I don’t know how dangerous this young woman is on her own, or if she has the sort of resources and resolve to carry out any more violence on her own. Perhaps she was mostly in the orbit of her boyfriend. But none of that matters at this point. She needs to be located and brought to justice. Sadly, that task just became significantly more complicated. As usual, we’ll update here if there is any significant progress, but I’m honestly not all that optimistic.
UPDATE: (Jazz) 1:50 p.m. Some of our readers were e-mailing before this even showed up on CNN, but reports are now surfacing that Boumeddiene is being reported as having left France as early as January 2nd and was being tracked by authorities in Turkey as having been in their nation. Additional claims place her as having crossed into Syria. Obviously none of this is rock solid at this point, but it wouldn’t be a complete shock either. It does speak to a few points about these fast moving stories, though.
First, people on the scene – including those associated with law enforcement – are more than willing to chat with reporters and give them leads which have not been verified. Also, the media can not serve as a substitute for good police work. But if this story is true, then all the initial information about Boumeddiene having been in the store with her boyfriend were based on either a false identification or complete speculation. If Boumeddiene is in Syria, though, she is much closer to “friends” and will be far harder to capture.