Charlie Hebdo attack: Paris shooting suspect was mentored by associate of former London imam Abu Hamza, claims report

Claims Cherif Kouachi was a disciple of Djamel Beghal, the man alleged to have recruited 'shoe bomber ' Richard Reid

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The Independent Online

One of the two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris was mentored by an associate of Abu Hamza, the former imam of Finsbury Park mosque in London, according to a report.

The UK security services are investigating the suspects’ potential connections with Islamist figures in the UK, The Daily Telegraph has reported.

It said Cherif Kouachi, 32 - subject of a massive manhunt in France along with his brother Said, 34 – was a disciple of Djamel Beghal, who is alleged to have recruited Richard Reid, known as the shoe bomber, and Zacarias Moussaoui, said to have been the “20th hijacker” in the 9/11 attacks.

Beghal, a convicted terrorist who served a 10-year prison sentence in France, was a member of Finsbury Park Mosque in the late 1990s. It is said he met Cherif Kouachi in prison after the latter was jailed in 2008 for helping jihadi fighters go to Iraq.

Reda Hassaine, who wrote a book about his work as an MI5 informant at the Finsbury Park mosque, said Beghal had connections with Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada, who was deported from Britain after a lengthy legal battle to face terror charges in Jordan. Mr Qatada was cleared of the charges in September but was refused permission to return to the UK. Hamza is awaiting sentence after he was found guilty of 11 charges of instigating terrorist acts by a court in New York.

 

“There is no doubt that you can see the influence of their teachings in him (Beghal),” he told The Telegraph.

“Their warped view of the world has filtered down through him to a new generation. What happened in Paris was the legacy of Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza.

“A completely new generation, who have never met these people in London, have learned their ideology indirectly and are now willing to die in jihad.”

Beghal is said to have once claimed to have created terrorist cells in the UK, France, Germany and Spain.

A report by the anti-extremist group Hope Not Hate revealed that the French secret service had developed a plan to assassinate Abu Hamza and put the blame on the Nazi group Combat 18. However the report said it was “unclear how advanced the planning” of the plot had been.

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