The two French suspects being hunted down by police here for the killing of 12 people in the attack on the satirical weekly "Charlie Hebdo" were on the US terrorist "Black List" for several years, a newspaper reported here Friday.
Daily "Le Figaro" said that Said and Sherif Kouachi, 34 and 32, were listed by American anti-terrorist services and there was also a "no fly" notice for both that prevented them for travelling to the United States.
The information was also corroborated Friday in a report in the "New York Times", which cited anonymous security sources in the United States.
French security services have not as yet confirmed the information but US Secretary for Justice and the Secretary of the Interior are both travelling to France on Sunday for a high-level meeting on terrorism. European and European Union to officials are also coming to the French capital for that meeting, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
"Le Figaro" also reported that the information from the United States indicated that Said Kouachi had travelled to Yemen in 2011, presumably for training by Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP).
One of the masked attackers at the "Charlie Hebdo" attack shouted to a witness that the operation was carried about by "Al-Qaeda in Yemen." The younger of the two suspects being sought, Sherif, was known to French security services for several years and had received a three-year jail sentence, half of it suspended, in 2008 for his activities in a network sending "foreign fighters" to Iraq. Both men were still on the run somewhere in a zone around 60-80 kilometers north of Paris but police appear to have lost their tracks and were redeploying some of their forces.
The zone is a vast forest area and the suspects abandoned their vehicle and had apparently taken off on foot into the forest, carrying weapons including a potential rocket launcher, news reports said.
Both Said and Sherif Kouachi were born in France of Algerian parents but were orphaned very young and were brought up in foster care.