Paris shooting: Suspect Cherif Kouachi was arrested by police twice before, jailed once

Cherif Kouachi was arrested 10 years ago as part of the Filiere des Buttes Chaumont cell, which met to recruit militants to fight in the Iraq war. -- PHOTO: AFP/FRENCH POLICE 
Cherif Kouachi was arrested 10 years ago as part of the Filiere des Buttes Chaumont cell, which met to recruit militants to fight in the Iraq war. -- PHOTO: AFP/FRENCH POLICE 

PARIS - Cherif Kouachi, one of the suspects in the raid on the Paris offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 people, is well-known to the French police.

Still at large for the massacre on Wednesday, this is at least the third time that Kouachi, 32, is being hunted by the French authorities, according to Bloomberg.

Born together with his brother Said, 34, in Paris' 10th district, the brothers of Algerian descent's most recent dwelling was Gennevilliers, a commuter town in the outskirts of Paris, reported the Liberation newspaper.

A police source cited by Le Point magazine called them hoodlums that became radicalised.

Cherif was arrested 10 years ago as part of the Filiere des Buttes Chaumont cell, which met to recruit militants to fight in the Iraq war. The group was named after a park where they met, and helped bring prospective militant fighters from France to Iraq.

Kouachi, who used to be a pizza delivery man, was nabbed as the group was about to fly to Syria.

During his trial, he said he started his fight when he read reports of US troops abusing inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. He also followed the sermons of self-styled preacher Farid Benyettou at mosques, and smoked marijuana.

He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2008, which included the 18 months that he had already served, meaning he served just 18 months more of that sentence. Benyettou was sentenced to six year's jail.

At the time of Cherif's arrest, Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin warned that radicals like him would "come back to France, armed with their experience, to carry out attacks", according to Bloomberg.

In 2010, Cherif was arrested again due to his suspected role in helping a militant behind fatal terror attacks in 1995, Bloomberg quoted police reports as saying.

He was held for four months, but released, Le Monde newspaper said, after prosecutors did not follow up on the case.

Cherif resurfaced last summer after he returned to France from Syria, together with his brother Said, according to the Le Point weekly website.

Cherif and Said are at large after the Charlie Hebdo attack.

The third suspect, 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad, is believed to have provided logistics for the Charlie Hebdo attack, Le Point reported.

He has surrendered to the police, the paper reported.