How the French terrorists were connected to al Qaeda, ISIS

Last Updated Jan 9, 2015 8:06 PM EST

A newspaper in Algeria is reporting the day before the Charlie Hebdo attack, Algerian intelligence services told their counterparts in France that a major terrorist operation was being planned on French territory.

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From left: Said Kouachi, 34, Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Amedy Coulibaly, 32. AP Photo/Prefecture de Police de Paris/CBS News
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There is evidence the three dead suspects -- brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi and grocery store gunman Amedy Coulibaly -- knew each other and shared common ties with known terrorists.

But investigators still don't know if their attacks were a coordinated set of strikes, or if Coulibaly carried out his attack as a show of support for the Kouachi brothers.

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While Coulibaly claimed allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the brothers had strong connections to al Qaeda.

U.S. officials say Said Kouachi spent time in Yemen in 2011, training with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. On Friday, AQAP posted a video praising the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

A spokesman for the Yemen-based al Qaeda affiliate told CBS News, "The leadership of AQAP directed the operation, and they have chosen their target carefully."

Officials have not verified that. But in a phone interview earlier today with a French television network BFM-TV, a man purporting to be Cherif Kouachi made a similar claim.

"I, Cherif Kouachi," the caller said, "was sent by al Qaeda in Yemen. I had been there (to Yemen) and it's Sheikh Anwar Awlaki who financed me, may Allah have mercy on his soul."

The French prosecutor says Cherif spent time in Yemen during 2011, the same time his brother was there.

It's not clear if the brothers ever met face-to-face with Awlaki, who was AQAP's chief of terror operations until he was killed by a U.S. drone strike in September of 2011.

At the same time, U.S. law enforcement say at this point, there are no co-conspirators or threats here connected to the French suspects.