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2 brothers now the most wanted men in France, sought in lethal attack on Paris newspaper

  • This photo provided by The Paris Police Prefecture Thursday, Jan.8, 2015 shows the suspects Cherif, left, and Said Kouachi  in the newspaper attack along with a plea for witnesses. Police hunted Thursday for two heavily armed men, one with possible links to al-Qaida, in the methodical killing of 12 people at a satirical newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammed. France began a day of national mourning for what its president called "an act of exceptional barbarism. (AP Photo/Prefecture de Police de Paris)

    This photo provided by The Paris Police Prefecture Thursday, Jan.8, 2015 shows the suspects Cherif, left, and Said Kouachi in the newspaper attack along with a plea for witnesses. Police hunted Thursday for two heavily armed men, one with possible links to al-Qaida, in the methodical killing of 12 people at a satirical newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammed. France began a day of national mourning for what its president called "an act of exceptional barbarism. (AP Photo/Prefecture de Police de Paris)  (The Associated Press)

  • This photo provided by the Paris Police Prefecture Friday, Jan. 9, 2015 shows Amedy Coulibaly A suspect in the kosher market attack. A police official says the man who has taken at least five people hostage in a kosher market on the eastern edges of Paris Friday appears linked to the newsroom massacre earlier this week that left 12 people dead.  Paris police released a photo of Amedy Coulibaly as a suspect in the killing Thursday of a policewoman, and the official named him as the man holed up in the market. He said the man is armed with an automatic rifle and some hostages have been gravely wounded. He said a second suspect, a woman named Hayet Boumddiene, is the gunman's accomplice. (AP Photo/Prefecture de Police de Paris)

    This photo provided by the Paris Police Prefecture Friday, Jan. 9, 2015 shows Amedy Coulibaly A suspect in the kosher market attack. A police official says the man who has taken at least five people hostage in a kosher market on the eastern edges of Paris Friday appears linked to the newsroom massacre earlier this week that left 12 people dead. Paris police released a photo of Amedy Coulibaly as a suspect in the killing Thursday of a policewoman, and the official named him as the man holed up in the market. He said the man is armed with an automatic rifle and some hostages have been gravely wounded. He said a second suspect, a woman named Hayet Boumddiene, is the gunman's accomplice. (AP Photo/Prefecture de Police de Paris)  (The Associated Press)

  • This photo provided by the Paris Police Prefecture Friday, Jan. 9, 2015 shows  Hayet Boumddiene the suspect in the kosher market attack. A police official says the man who has taken at least five people hostage in a kosher market on the eastern edges of Paris Friday appears linked to the newsroom massacre earlier this week that left 12 people dead.  Paris police released a photo of Amedy Coulibaly as a suspect in the killing Thursday of a policewoman, and the official named him as the man holed up in the market. He said the man is armed with an automatic rifle and some hostages have been gravely wounded. He said a second suspect, a woman named Hayet Boumddiene, is the gunman's accomplice. (AP Photo/Prefecture de Police de Paris)

    This photo provided by the Paris Police Prefecture Friday, Jan. 9, 2015 shows Hayet Boumddiene the suspect in the kosher market attack. A police official says the man who has taken at least five people hostage in a kosher market on the eastern edges of Paris Friday appears linked to the newsroom massacre earlier this week that left 12 people dead. Paris police released a photo of Amedy Coulibaly as a suspect in the killing Thursday of a policewoman, and the official named him as the man holed up in the market. He said the man is armed with an automatic rifle and some hostages have been gravely wounded. He said a second suspect, a woman named Hayet Boumddiene, is the gunman's accomplice. (AP Photo/Prefecture de Police de Paris)  (The Associated Press)

Two brothers are suddenly the most wanted men in France, suspected of the armed onslaught on a newspaper office that claimed a dozen lives and horrified this country and much of the world.

Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, became the targets of a mammoth manhunt following Wednesday's murderous attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

The younger Kouachi had been sentenced to 18 months of prison in 2008 after trying to leave to join Muslim fighters battling in Iraq.

Associated Press reporters who covered the trial, which exposed a recruiting pipeline for Islamic holy war in a rough multiethnic and working-class neighborhood of northeastern Paris, recalled a skinny young defendant who appeared very nervous in court.

Cherif Kouachi's lawyer said at the time his client had gotten in with the wrong crowd, and in over his head.

During the trial, Kouachi was said to have undergone only minimal training for combat, going jogging to shape up physically and learning how a Kalashnikov automatic rifle works by studying a sketch. The former pizza deliveryman was described as a reluctant holy warrior, relieved to have been stopped by French counterespionage officials from taking a Syria-bound flight that was ultimately supposed to lead him to the battlefields of Iraq.

But imprisonment changed his former client, attorney Vincent Ollivier told Le Parisien newspaper in a story published Thursday. Cherif Kouachi became closed off and unresponsive, and started growing a beard, Ollivier said. The time in prison, the lawyer said, may have turned him into a time bomb.

Less is known publicly about the older Kouachi, but Prime Minister Manuel Valls told French radio Thursday that both brothers were known to intelligence services and were likely being followed before the Charlie Hebdo attack.

A third suspect identified by French authorities in the assault, in which 12 people were injured, has turned himself in.