Hasna Aitboulahcen, the blonde woman who detonated a suicide vest during a raid by French police and soldiers on a flat in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, expressed her dreams of going to Syria just months before she blew herself up.
Described as the first-ever female suicide bomber to operate in western Europe, the 26-year-old woman is said to be the cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged Islamic State (IS) mastermind behind the Paris attacks on 13 November that killed 129 people.
It is not known if Aitboulahcen triggered the explosive belt to commit suicide or to cause the maximum damage possible. iTele reported that investigators traced back the alleged terror suspects to her flat – which Paris Prosecutor François Molins described as a "conspirational" apartment – after tapping her conversations. She was believed to constantly be in touch with Abaaoud.
Hasna Aitboulahcen was radicalised
Born in France in 1989, Aitboulahcen grew up in Paris and held French-Moroccan citizenship, contrary to her "cousin" Abaaoud, who was Belgian.
Aitboulahcen, who lived in the suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, had been radicalised, the French-language daily Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure (DH) reported.
Jean-Michel Décugis, a police justice expert, said: "She has wanted to wage jihad for years. She never went to Syria or Iraq, according to our information, but she offered her services to conduct terror attacks in France."
DH, which consulted the young woman's Facebook profile, found worrisome elements that could lead investigators to believe Aitboulahcen was hoping to leave France for Syria to join IS.
After publishing a picture of herself wearing a niqab and holding weapons, DH reported Aitboulahcen had written - with spelling mistakes - "I'll soon to go Syria Inch'Allah, soon (I'll) leave for Turkey".
In parallel, the Seine-Saint-Denis police was also monitoring the young woman for alleged drug trafficking, iTele reported.
On her page, the young woman also allegedly posted messages glorifying Hayat Boumeddiene, the fugitive former wife of terrorist Amédy Coulibaly who killed four Jewish men in the Paris supermarket attack following the attack on Charlie Hebdo in January.
Boumeddiene became one of the world's most-wanted women after an article published in the publication Dar al-Islam (The Lands of Islam) claimed she was in IS-held territory in Iraq or Syria.
An 'outgoing but a bit lost' young woman
The young woman said on her Facebook profile she had attended the Paul Verlaine University of Metz before managing Beko Construction, a construction firm that was later put into liquidation.
Intriguingly, French media have pointed out the coincidence that Aitboulahcen had operated the firm for seven months until December 2013 – the same period during which Abaaoud was in Syria.
According to France Bleu radio, Beko Construction was previously registered in Creutzwald, in the Moselle department, which borders Luxembourg and Germany. The young woman is reported to have left the region around five years ago.
Citing the mayor of the town, Radio Bleu established that Aitboulahcen's father is still based in Creutzwald, but spends the majority of his time in Morocco, from where the family originates.
Interrogated by Le Républicain Lorrain newspaper, neighbours recalled how a younger Aitboulahcen was "outgoing but a bit lost". The local residents described how the young woman used to wear "big hats" - not niqabs.