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IS Touts Interview With 'France's Most-Wanted Woman,' Hayat Boumedienne


A combo photo released on January 9 by the French police showing Hayat Boumeddiene and common-law husband Amedy Coulibaly, suspected in a spate of shootings after the January 7 Charlie Hebdo attack and who was killed when French police stormed a kosher market in Paris on January 9 to free hostages.

A combo photo released on January 9 by the French police showing Hayat Boumeddiene and common-law husband Amedy Coulibaly, suspected in a spate of shootings after the January 7 Charlie Hebdo attack and who was killed when French police stormed a kosher market in Paris on January 9 to free hostages.

A French-language magazine produced by the militant group Islamic State (IS) purports to include an interview with Hayat Boumedienne, the widow of Paris kosher supermarket gunman Amedy Coulibaly.

Coulibaly, who called himself Abu Basir Abdullah al-Afriki, was accused of shooting a jogger on January 7 and an unarmed policewoman and streetsweeper on January 8, then carried out the January 9 attack on the Hyper Cacher supermarket that killed four people before police stormed the kosher shop and shot Coulibaly, freeing the remaining hostages. Boumedienne is thought to have gone to Syria before the attacks. The attacks came after two gunmen killed 12 people at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The French IS magazine is named Dar Al-Islam, Abode Of Islam, a term used to refer to lands under the rule of Islam. The magazine, which bears the logo of IS's Al Hayat media wing, features on its cover an image of the Eiffel Tower and the title May Allah Curse France. In addition to the interview with Boumedienne, the magazine includes articles with the headlines: Attacking Those Who Insulted The Prophet and The History Of France's Enmity Toward Islam.

The purported interview with Boumedienne, titled Interview With The Spouse, is in question-and-answer format and takes up two pages of the 13-page magazine. The magazine does not refer to Boumedienne by name but as the "spouse of our brother Abu Basir Abdullah al-Afriki."

It is not possible to verify the authenticity of the interview, and Charlie Winter, a researcher on jihadism in Syria and Iraq at the Britain-based Quilliam Foundation, noted that the magazine was not distributed on Arabic-language IS channels and that the magazine may not be an official publication.

Regardless of whether the interview is genuine or fabricated, Dar Al-Islam magazine uses the concept of Boumedienne -- a pious wife who supported her IS husband in his "burning desire" to "fight the enemies of Allah" -- as an example that pious, IS wives should follow.

Her common-law husband, Coulibaly, who pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a video, is also lauded as a "martyr" by IS.

The interview quotes Boumedienne as saying that she arrived safely in IS-controlled territory and did not encounter any difficulty.

"It is good to live in a land that is governed by the laws of Allah," Boumedienne is quoted as saying.

Asked what Coulibaly felt when the "caliphate" (the term used by IS to refer to lands under its control) was proclaimed, Boumedienne says that he "greatly rejoiced."

"His heart was burning with a desire to join his brothers and fight the enemies of Allah on the lands of the caliphate. His eyes shone whenever he watched videos by Islamic State," she was quoted as saying.

Asked whether she had a message to Muslims and to women in particular, Boumedienne says that they should "study the life of the Prophet and his companions and see what the purpose of their lives. Their goal was to worship Allah as Allah wishes."

In addressing women, Boumedienne does not deviate from the IS position on how women should behave, telling her "sisters" to serve their "husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons."

Women should not "waste their time and energy on trivialities" or on what does not concern them, Boumedienne is quoted as telling Dar Al-Islam.

Instead, Boumedienne exhorts women to "learn your religion! Read the Koran, meditate on it, and put it into practice."

The magazine quotes Boumedienne as saying that women should follow the examples of Asiya, who in Islamic tradition is the wife of the pharoah who reigned during Moses' time and who is revered as one of the greatest women of all time; and Maryam, the mother of Jesus who is considered one of the most righteous women in Islam.

Boumedienne concludes with some platitudes: "patience is a virtue," she is quoted as saying, adding that "a believer's life is full of obstacles and trials...[L]ife is short even if in times of sadness it seems long."

Dar Al-Islam magazine's purported interview with Boumedienne, its praise for Coulibaly and the Paris attacks, and the exhortation that Allah should "curse France" comes after several IS videos featuring French Muslims calling for attacks in France.

The most recent of these was in the February 9 video Inside Halab, featuring British hostage John Cantlie. The video includes an "interview" with a French militant who not only lauds the January attacks in Paris but who also urges Muslims in France to carry out more attacks.

"Kill them with knives. At the very least, strike them in the face," the militant said.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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