One of the victims of the January terror attack against a Kosher supermarket in Paris revisited his experience working closely with the 32-year-old gunman as the hostage crisis progressed, in an exclusive interview with Vanity Fair published on Wednesday.
The man, who “insisted” on going by the name of Andre, recalled the harrowing events as they unfolded at the Hyper Cacher market, just two days after ISIS-affiliated terrorists murdered 12 people at the satirical French Charlie Hebdo magazine, also in Paris.
Andre recalled telling the terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, that it was the first time he had shopped at the supermarket.
“Wow, that is bad luck,” Coulibaly responded, after he had already shot dead four victims at the supermarket in Paris’ 20th arrondissement.
Andre had fled with a few others to the basement of the market after he heard gunshots ricochet through the market. He was told to come upstairs, with the others, or else the victims being held above would be shot.
Andre — formerly a teacher in a rough Paris neighborhood perhaps not unlike Coulibaly’s own — recounted assisting the terrorist establish an Internet connection to post footage of the attack, and to disseminate the news in real-time to France’s major networks. He noted that it felt as though Coulibaly was following a protocol of sorts.
Andre said he was “struck by what seemed to be a split in Coulibaly’s personality. He seemed equal parts insecure student and newly trained terrorist, as if he were taking cues from the ISIS playbook, which inspires working-class would-be jihadists to morph into monsters capable of beheading.”
He said that although Coulibaly had come equipped with a GoPro camera, computer and other technical equipment, he had forgotten to bring a means for connecting to the web, which is where Andre stepped in.
“I told him what I was doing as I was doing it. And at all times I called him ‘mister,’ and I used the formal vous, as a way of showing my respect. I wanted to keep him calm. I knew that already he had killed four people, and I made it my mission: No one else will die. ‘We don’t need Wi-Fi,’ I told him. ‘I can get you online,’” he said.
Ultimately, police stormed the market and shot Coulibaly dead. In the end, no other hostages were killed beyond the first four who Coulibaly killed when he stormed the market.