NEVER TOLERATE TYRANNY!....Conservative voices from the GRASSROOTS.
Updated March 23, 2012, 9:00 a.m. ET
PARIS—The death of Mohamed Merah, the suspected French killer who met his end Thursday in a barrage of special-forces gunfire, left officials piecing together how he became the alleged homegrown terrorist behind the most violent attacks on French soil in almost two decades.
On Thursday, a more-complete picture emerged of Mr. Merah, who police say conducted seven point-blank killings in and around Toulouse over the previous 11 days.
Over recent years, according to the emerging accounts, the French citizen of Algerian descent appeared to be looking for a place to belong—seeking twice, without success, to join the French armed services.
He had also, according to his own account, sought to belong to al Qaeda. On Wednesday, as he was pinned inside a Toulouse apartment by special forces, he told a police negotiator he had trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and in the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan. Western intelligence agencies couldn't confirm his claims.
Controversy emerged Thursday over whether French authorities should have been watching Mr. Merah more closely. The U.S. put him on its no-fly list as a suspected terrorist, U.S. officials say, because in 2010 he had been in custody in Afghanistan and then sent back to France. France put him on a watch list of suspected Islamist militants, but stopped short of including him on a narrower surveillance list.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé on Thursday said authorities should investigate whether there was a failure by French intelligence gatherers. "I can't tell you what kind of failure, but we need to shed some light on that," he told French radio.
Investigators have recovered what they say are "explicit" videos of the attacks that they say Mr. Merah made using a camera strapped to his body. In a film police say is from the shooting of a soldier March 11, the gunman is heard to say: "You kill my brothers, now I'm killing you."
In his alleged attacks, Mr. Merah appeared to follow al Qaeda's founding cause of killing "Jews and crusaders." He is suspected of having shot dead three soldiers from regiments that had dispatched troops to Afghanistan, and of having opened fire on a Jewish school in Toulouse, leaving four dead, including three children.
On Wednesday, police say he told his interlocutor that he had "brought France down on its knees," expressing regret that he had failed to kill more people.
"He appears to have drifted into a parallel world where he picked and chose elements to build himself a new identity," said Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor in the Middle East department at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
French officials had hoped to detain Mr. Merah, 23 years old, alive. For more than a day, they surrounded the Toulouse apartment building where he was holed up, at one point extracting a promise that he would surrender himself.
He didn't. Late Thursday morning, 33 hours into the standoff, French special forces moved in. Mr. Merah came out of a bathroom, shooting an automatic weapon with "extreme violence," Interior Minister Claude Guéant said. After five minutes of shooting that was heard around the neighborhood, Mr. Merah jumped out of a window, firing as he fell, Mr. Guéant said. Police said they returned fire. Mr. Merah was found dead on the ground, a bullet in the head, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said their probe continued as they attempted to determine whether the suspect had accomplices. Late Thursday, his older brother, Abdelkader Merah, and their mother were still in police custody. Prosecutors didn't say on what grounds.
Mr. Merah's older brother had been on the radar of French antiterrorist agencies because he allegedly helped Islamic militants to travel illegally from Europe to Iraq in 2007, police officials said. The brother was never prosecuted or charged, they said.
Cellphone numbers for the older Mr. Merah and his mother appeared to be disconnected. No legal representatives could be reached.
Born in the Toulouse area, Mr. Merah grew up in a family of Algerian origin, with his divorced mother and four siblings, according to Marie-Christine and Christian Etelin, whose law firm defended him over the years. He attended a local school, they say, and trained as a car-body repair technician.
Prosecutors initially said Mr. Merah was 24 years old but later amended his age to 23.
Mr. Merah was brought before a judge for the first time at age 16, for allegedly throwing a stone at a bus. Because he was a juvenile, he was given a citation but wasn't charged, Ms. Etelin said. Over the next few years, she said, he was cited 15 times in total, including on allegations that he stole a scooter, sold a motorbike that was reported stolen, fought with a rival group at an ice rink and insulted a teacher. He wasn't sent to prison because he was a minor, she said.
In 2008, Mr. Merah told Mr. Etelin that he wanted to sign up in the French army "to defend the French flag." He showed up at a recruitment center but failed to pass evaluations because of his police record, said French army spokesman Col. Bruno Lafitte.
Soon after, Mr. Merah was sent to the Saint-Sulpice-la-Pointe prison, near Toulouse, to serve an 18-month conviction for snatching an elderly woman's handbag.
Police said Mr. Merah may have become more politicized in detention.
The website of France's Justice Ministry says the prison, with a 102-inmate capacity, is for low-security inmates. Ms. Etelin said she doubted he would have been radicalized there.
After his release, Mr. Merah made the first of what French officials say were two formative trips—one to Afghanistan in 2010 and to Pakistan in 2011.
French officials said he went to Afghanistan in late 2010 alone, without relying on any of the known Islamic networks who often help Westerners reach the area.
Mr. Merah was arrested by Afghan police during a routine identity check in Kandahar and put on a flight to Europe, prosecutors say.
After the incident, Mr. Merah was added to a U.S. no-fly list. Counterterrorism officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which manages the U.S. list, also had collected information on Mr. Merah before the recent shootings in France, including the 2010 encounter, U.S. officials said.
The circumstances of his apprehension, detention and return to France weren't entirely clear. U.S. military officials said they don't have a record of his being in U.S. custody while in Afghanistan.
Later in 2010, Mr. Merah made another bid to join the army, this time applying to the Foreign Legion. "He came over but left even before the start of the evaluation program," said legion spokesman Lt. Col. Frédéric Daguillion.
From mid-August to mid-October 2011, Mr. Merah traveled to Pakistan, according to prosecutors. But he fell ill with Hepatitis A, they say.
Returning home, he was interrogated by French antiterrorism investigators.
"He said he had traveled to Pakistan for tourism, showing photos of his trip," Paris prosecutor François Molins said Thursday.
In recent months, Mr. Merah appeared to have returned to a more quiet life, living officially off a €475 ($630) monthly government allowance.
Grigor Harutyunyan, a 16-year-old who lives in a building where Mr. Merah's mother was once registered, said he knows Mr. Merah as Momo. Mr. Harutyunyan said he last saw the suspect two months ago at a wrestling class in Toulouse. For the first time, he said, Mr. Merah had grown a beard. But he didn't speak about religion.
"He was never aggressive, or violent either," said Mr. Harutyunyan.
A contrasting picture was presented by the Paris prosecutor. On Wednesday, Mr. Molins described Mr. Merah as a lonesome man capable of spending "long hours at home, watching video footage of decapitation scenes." He didn't say how investigators knew of the videos.
The prosecutor said Thursday that during the siege, Mr. Merah told police that he had financed the acquisition of his arsenal of guns by conducting robberies.
—Noémie Bisserbe, Devlin Barrett, William Horobin and Geraldine Amiel contributed to this article
But he didn't speak about religion.
"He was never aggressive, or violent either," said Mr. Harutyunyan.
How many times have we heard descriptions of murderers just like the above.
What it proves is, terrorists bent on murdering infidels can easily hide their intentions. Even the "authorities" aren't able to identify and stop the carnage.
The only way to end the nightmare is a bullet to the head.
© 2023 Created by Your Uncle Sam. Powered by
You need to be a member of REAL CONSERVATIVES to add comments!
Join REAL CONSERVATIVES