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Monday, March 26, 2012

No lone wolf

French Islamist mass murderer Mohamed Merah did not work alone writes Jytte Klausen (full article for those who do not have Journal access here).
In fact, Merah was practically a prince in French jihadist circles. His mother is married to the father of Sabri Essid, a leading member of the Toulouse radical milieu who was captured in Syria in 2006. Essid and another Frenchman were running an al Qaeda safe house in Syria for fighters going to Iraq. In a 2009 trial that came to be known in the press as "Brothers for Iraq," they and six others were convicted in France of conspiracy for terrorist purposes. Essid was sentenced in 2009 to five years imprisonment.

Family contacts could have been instrumental in setting up Merah's jihadist contacts and facilitating his travels to South Asia. Le Monde reports that the Pakistani Taliban and the Uzbek Islamic Movement trained Merah to become a killer. In 2010, he was captured in Afghanistan (reportedly by Afghan forces) and handed over to the French government, yet French media report that he was able to return to Northwest Pakistan in 2011.

The French police have confirmed that Merah was under periodic surveillance in recent months. That he slipped through and was able to carry out his attacks will become a source of criticism and self-recrimination on the part of the generally efficient French police. It certainly suggests that he had help from a network.
Read the whole thing.

One of my children came home from school today and told me of a miracle at the school in Toulouse that he heard from his rabbi. Right next to where Merah murdered 8-year old Miriam Monsonego was a room full of people praying the morning prayers. There could have been a much higher death toll.

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