PARIS — Little more than an hour before the Charlie Hebdo attacks, one of the gunmen sent a text message to the man who later killed four people at a kosher supermarket, a French government official told NBC News Thursday.
Cherif Kouachi also met Amedy Coulibaly between midnight and 1 a.m. on the eve of the January 7 attack, the official said.
The details were contained in leaked documents from the investigation and first published in French newspaper Le Monde on Tuesday. The report was confirmed to NBC News by a well placed government official speaking on condition of anonymity. The newspaper said it was the first time investigators have seen proof that the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket were linked.
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Cherif Kouachi and his brother, Said, killed 12 people during the Charlie Hebdo attack which began at around 11:30 a.m. local time (5:30 a.m. ET). Coulibaly killed four hostages at a Paris kosher supermarket two days later while demanding the release of the Kouachi brothers who were by this time surrounded by police outside the capital. All three were killed in police raids.
According to the government official, a text message was sent at 10:19 a.m. from the home of Cherif Kouachi in the Paris suburb Gennevilliers. The cellphone account only ever sent six messages and was apparently opened specifically to coordinate the attack.
The details showed the operation was "a well-coordinated attack, " according to Alain Bauer, a professor of criminology at Paris' National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts. He told NBC News that Coulibaly was the leader — or "producer" — of the operation.
"Coulibaly decided which weapons to buy, where to get the money, buy the car, scope out the targets and coordinate the attack," said Bauer, who also advises the French authorities in criminology.
- Nancy Ing