Chérif Kouachi, one of the alleged perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, spoke to a French journalist by phone at around 10 a.m. Paris time on Friday, according to the reporter. Shortly after, Kouachi was killed by police. In the call, he stated that he had been sent by al-Qaeda's Yemen-based branch.
"I was sent, me, Chérif Kouachi, by al-Qaeda of Yemen," he says in the call, mentioning Anwar al-Awlaki specifically.
He spoke to Igor Sahiri, a journalist from BFM-TV, who recorded the conversation. In a video clip above, the TV news channel plays part of the tape and discusses the call that yielded it. The channel chose not to broadcast the phone conversations because, at the time, Kouachi was still in a standoff with police.
According to BFM journalist Sarah-Lou Cohen, Koauchi went on to say that he was seeking revenge for the Prophet Mohammed.
"They explained as well that they deny having killed civilians," Cohen said, paraphrasing from parts of the call that were not played on-air. "That's important, because for them, the journalists at Charlie Hebdo were not civilians, they were targets," Cohen said. "Then he continued, very calmly, explaining that they did not come to kill women and children but it's us, the Westerners, he said, who are killing children in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Syria."
"He spoke in a manner … that was very calm and very determined," Cohen said, "as if he had also prepared answers." It was "extremely troubling," she said. "The message was to pass along his claim of responsibility. He intended that his claims be publicly known."
In a separate interview slightly after 3 p.m. Paris time, the channel also spoke with Amedy Coulibaly. "That was a different situation, because we got a phone call," Cohen said. "He called us because in fact he was looking to contact the police."
"He claimed to be part of the Islamic State [ISIS] very clearly," Cohen said. "He said he had instructions from the caliphate. And then another very important element, evidently, as we were saying in the afternoon, he established a link with the Kouachi brothers."
Coulibaly told Alexis Delahousse, another BFM journalist, that he and the Kouachi brothers had planned their attacks together but had not been in touch since they began the operations. This detail has puzzled terrorism analysts, as al-Qaeda and ISIS are rivals rather than allies.
"Finally, he explained also why he did this: to defend oppressed Muslims, he said, notably in Palestine," Cohen said. "And finally he explained his target, why this kosher store: because he was targeting Jews."