Europe

Toulouse gunman: French 'stopped tracking' Mohamed Merah

  • 19 October 2012
  • From the section Europe
Image of Mohamed Merah next to a car, waving his hand in the air
Mohamed Merah taunted police and boasted of the killings he carried out

French secret services stopped tracking Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah, despite evidence of his extensive links to jihadists, including in the UK, leaked documents suggest.

Le Monde newspaper says it has seen notes from the domestic intelligence agency DCRI describing his successful efforts to conceal his movements.

The judge investigating the case said he was perplexed by the DCRI decision.

Merah killed seven people in March before being shot dead by police.

The victims included three soldiers and four Jewish people.

The leaked papers suggest there was more than just suspicion on the part of the French intelligence services, says the BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris.

Merah had been tracked by the security services since 2006.

Profile issue

The report prepared for the French government and leaked to Le Monde cites a DCRI officer raising concerns about the man in March 2011.

The officer said Merah rarely left his home and was paranoid and suspicious. He had no internet in his flat, did not appear to have a mobile phone and always used public telephone booths.

Another note, on 26 April 2011, reported that Merah was violent to women for having shown disrespect to a Muslim.

The note said he glorified the murder of "Western infidels" in songs he composed, and he was photographed with a knife and Koran. He travelled frequently to the Middle East.

He had a long list of contacts to Islamist movements in the UK, the same leaked document says.

According to Le Monde, Merah was last questioned in November 2011 and had great difficulty explaining a visit to Pakistan where he had been training with militants.

Abel Chennouf was one of Merah's victims

Just a week later, the DCRI suddenly stopped monitoring him.

Judge Christophe Teissier said he was surprised by the move.

The judge said Merah's profile was typical of a home-grown threat - he was independent, radicalised quickly, and did everything possible to conceal the support and training he was receiving.

In August, Le Monde said other documents it had seen showed Merah had made more than 1,800 calls to over 180 contacts in 20 different countries.

Merah was shot dead on 22 March after a huge manhunt culminated in a 32-hour stand-off with police at an apartment in Toulouse.

The Jewish victims included three children murdered at a school.

Merah's rampage, from 11 to 19 March, terrorised the region.

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