Friday, August 24, 2012

24-Aug-12: Lone wolf killer of children with his hundreds of contacts and lengthy visits to jihadist training schools might not have acted entirely alone, it seems

We know about the dead. We know about the killer. We are starting to know about his friends and colleagues. Connecting the dots.
Four months ago, we wrote here that 
The murders of three French servicemen followed shortly afterwards by the killing of a four innocent Jews – a young schoolteacher and two of his small children and then a third little girl – are receding into the background.  ["19-Apr-12: How the murder of three French children has become the launch of a new chapter in the conquest of Europe by the terrorists"]
Those killings, and especially the murder of the three little children near the town's Jewish school, now turn out to have been done by someone who, it is beginning to start to seem to possibly be potentially suspected, was not merely an "angry petty criminal" who had "radicalised himself" - to quote today's BBC report

But rushing to make premature judgments would be deeply, seriously wrong.

The evidence shows the self-described jihadist, a garage mechanic who said he was connected to al-Qaeda, made more than 1,800 calls to over 180 contacts in 20 different countries (mainly Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Kazhakstan, Saudi Arabia, Bhutan and the UK) between September 2010 and February 2011. He made several trips to the Middle East and Afghanistan in the same period. This was noticed, though not enough by the people paid to protect the public security. France's intelligence services started paying attention in 2009 as a result of an investigation into his sister, Souad, and his brother, Abdelkhadar. They are both currently in the custody of French police. 

In February 2011, the Germans alerted their French colleagues that Merah had travelled from Cairo, via Frankfurt, to Toulouse. His trip included a visit to a Salafist/Sunni Islamist school of obedience in Egypt. Then in March 2011, after Merah had a long stay in Afghanistan, the police in France put him under tighter surveillance (no one is saying what this means, for now at least, perhaps since the outcome is so tragic). During this period he frequently changed SIM cards that were registered in his mother's name, suggesting the Merah clan was aware of the investigation and sought to protect him. The BBC quoting Le Monde says he had contact with one known Salafist in Toulouse during this period, and with two others "who recently left for Mauritania" [source].

It's worth recalling that the Merah clan is not sitting this investigation process out passively. The father, Mohamed Benalel Merah, said soon after his son's death on March 22, 2012, that he plans to sue the French government. 
A lawyer for Mohamed Benalel Merah, who lives in Algeria, said the suit was against those "who gave the orders at the top of the police"... French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, who is assisting Algerian lawyer Zahia Mokhtari, filed the suit in Paris [in early June]. "This is a suit against unnamed persons for murder with aggravating circumstances concerning those who gave the orders at the top of the police," said Ms Coutant-Peyre. [source]
On the other hand, there's no sign so far of anyone suing the persons who gave orders at the top of the jihadist hierarchy. We can hope. Perhaps eventually someone in a position of French authority will connect the dots.

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