US/World News

French police investigate Toulouse gunman’s brother

Abdelkader Merah being taken into custody

The brother of the shooter responsible for the deaths of three schoolchildren and a rabbi in Toulouse France, has been handed preliminary charges of terrorism and murder for allegedly assisting his brother.
Investigators believe Abdelkader Merah helped his brother, Mohammed Merah, prepare and plan the massacre at the Ozar HaTorah Jewish day school that took place on Monday March 19. Merah denies any role and, according to his lawyer, feels “like a scapegoat,” the Associated Press reported.
“No one knew anything” about what Mohamed was plotting, Anne-Sophie Laguens, Abdelkader Merah’s lawyer, told reporters in Paris on Sunday. She also said that Merah did not approve of his brother’s attacks, commenting, “He was never proud of those actions.”
Bernard Squarcini, head of France’s Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence, also concluded on Saturday that the attacks had been improvised. Merah had been planning to kill another soldier (he had killed three soldiers prior to the attack on the Jewish school), he said, but arrived late and changed his target.
Investigators are also trying to determine whether Merah acted alone or as part of a network. “Police inquiries have produced grave and matching pointers that suggest his participation as accomplice in crimes relating to a terrorist enterprise is plausible,” the Paris public prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
Mohammed Merah was killed on Wednesday, March 21 after a 20-hour standoff with police outside his mother’s apartment. Following his death, several French Muslim students held a moment of silence for the Toulouse killer, who claimed to be a member of the terrorist gropu al Qaeda, and paid homage to him through a Facebook page. Many blamed Israel for exploiting the murders.
Muslims weren’t the only ones to excuse Mohammed Merah. Some French media referred to the killer as a “child” and described him as a victim of economic hardship. According to Israel National News, one teacher in Rouen also staged a moment of silence and, although most of the students left the classroom in protest, at least one said his victims “deserved” it.

—JointMedia News Service

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