It has been nearly a decade since the bullet-ridden bodies of a British-Iraqi family and a French cyclist were found on a deserted road in the French alps on September 5, 2012. Saad Al-Hilli, 50, his wife, Iqbal, 47, and her mother, Suhaila Al-Allaf, 74, were found dead in their idling burgundy BMW. The lifeless body of Sylvain Mollier, 45, a French bicyclist, was near the car. Zainab, the couple’s 7-year-old daughter, was found outside the car, pistol whipped with a gunshot would to her shoulder and her 4-year-old sister Zeena was hiding under her mother’s corpse in the back seat.
More than 800 witnesses in France, England, Italy, Switzerland and Iraq have been heard in the dead-end investigation, that has been rife with conspiracy theories, ranging from reports that the patriarch, Saad Al-Hilli was a money runner for Saddam Hussein’s millions thanks to rumors of secret bank accounts and a family feud, to suppositions that it was an ambush of a secret meeting between Mollier and Al-Hilli. In 2013, Al-Hilli’s older brother was accused of ordering a hit on his brother but later released due to lack of evidence of any hitmen.
Blood-splatter evidence painted an unsolvable mystery. The Al-Hilli patriarch was shot dead inside the locked car, but had the cyclist’s blood on his clothing. The 7-year-old found outside the vehicle had the cyclist’s blood on her feet.
The case, while still open, has been idle for years.
But this week a bizarre connection to the attempted assassination of French hypnotist Marie-Hélène Dini, 55, near Paris might just help solve the case. Dini learned that last year she had narrowly escaped an assassination by a hit squad French police say was hired by her professional rival for around $85,000. The rival, who was also arrested, said he only hired the men to watch her, not kill her.
Police were called to Dini’s home in the Parisian suburb of Creteil last July when a nosy neighbor called in that two suspicious-looking men were staking out the neighborhood. Police found the men, who were wearing black clothing and gloves, with a Luger Po6 pistol and silencer sitting in a car with fake license plates. They told police that they were on “an official mission” to shoot the hypnotist because of her alleged dealings with the secret Israeli police known as the Mossad.
Police detained the pair and found they were paid hitmen, linked to other murders for hire. They say the men, one of whom was a retired police officer, had met through a “tiny group of freemasons who had turned their hands to carrying out hit contracts,” according to French media reports. Dini told police she had no association with the Mossad and has since left the Paris area.
Their weapon and ammunition was then analyzed to try to find a connection to unsolved crimes. Two other murders have already been tied to the hit squad and French police reported Friday that the exact type of bullets in their loaded gun meant for the hynotist were used to kill the Al-Hilli family and French biker in the Alps. Now investigators are looking into who might have hired the men and whether Al-Hilli or the French cyclist–or both—were the intended targets, and why.