When Paris attacks gunman spoke of his 'transformation' in prison

By Warda Mohamed

In December 2008, freelance journalist Warda Mohamed interviewed a 26-year-old convicted delinquent who hid his identity behind the pseudonym ‘Hugo’. The interview centred on the repeat offender’s experiences in prison, where he served time for crimes including armed robbery and drugs trafficking. Little more than six years later, Mohamed discovered that ‘Hugo’ was in fact Amedy Coulibaly, who shot dead a policewoman and four customers of a kosher store during the January 2015 Islamist terrorist massacres in Paris. Here Mohamed returns to that interview in 2008, when Coulibaly explained how he was “transformed” by prison.

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After months of contact via intermediaries, the meeting with Amedy Coulibaly finally took place on December 31st 2008. Wary of journalists and because of the risks he ran, he had until then been reticent about accepting an interview.