The woman who played a major role in the Paris attacks last month, Hayat Boumeddiene, had crossed the Atlantic at least once – immigration authorities in the Dominican Republic have confirmed that the woman and her husband vacationed in Punta Cana, the popular beach resort, sometime before overtaking bloody headlines around the world.
Pictures obtained by French authorities show her and her common-law husband, Amedy Coulibaly, posing blithely in a bikini.
“If a passenger coming in by plane, or on a cruise, is not required by the Interpol and the Dominican authorities have not been alerted him or her as a wanted person, the Dominican authorities have no way of knowing,” said Juan Miguel Pantaleon, a Dominican lawyer interviewed recently by Spanish-language network Univision.
Coulibaly shot a policewoman to death Jan. 8 on the outskirts of Paris and then a day later killed four hostages at a kosher supermarket before being killed in a police raid. The carnage attack came just one day after the deadly attack at the offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
A set of pictures obtained by the Washington Post show Boumeddiene, a 26-year-old of Algerian descent, enjoying happy times not only in the D.R. but also in Dubai and other unspecified locations. The set includes a few selfies of her seemingly naked and some of Coulibaly posing solo as well.
Boumeddiene, one of six children, had lost her mother when she was 8. Her father’s new wife clashed with her stepchildren, the Post reports, and she was placed in a foster home at age 13, with an Algerian family from the same hometown as Boumeddiene father, Mohamed.
“This girl didn’t grow up in my house. She grew up in the house of nonbelievers,” he told the Washington Post. “She made all these decisions on her own.”
Boumeddiene’s foster brother, who spoke to the Post under the condition of anonymity, said she lived like a regular girl growing up in Paris and even described her as a diligent hard high school student who worked part-time at a newsstand in a Paris train station to help ends meet.
Meanwhile, French authorities are trying to determine whether Boumeddiene is again active with ISIS in Syria, after a picture surfaced this week showing a group of male jihadists and a woman whose identity has yet to be determined.
Boumeddiene fled to Syria as Coulibaly carried out his attacks in Paris.
French authorities are working with other countries to search for other possible accomplices, said Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins. They are especially trying to find out who was responsible for the posthumous video of Coulibaly, edited and released days after he and brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi died in standoffs with police.
In the video, Coulibaly pledges allegiance to the Islamic State group and details how the Paris attacks were coordinated.
The French authorities acknowledged that Coulibaly and Boumeddiene were stopped by police in a routine control Dec. 30, the week before the attacks, then let go.