As a former government minister observes below, it seems highly doubtful that Merah was paying his own way through the past few years: “too many arms, too many trips, too much money.”
“Toulouse shooting: Killer was on U.S. ‘no-fly’ list,” from the Telegraph, March 22:
Nationwide relief greeted the news that no police fatalities had been incurred in eliminating Mohammed Merah, 23, wanted in the killings of three French paratroopers, a rabbi and three children ages 4, 5, and 7 shot outside a Jewish school in Toulouse.
But the authorities faced growing criticism that it should have prevented a killing spree by a known fundamentalist who was the US no-fly list and had attended an al-Qaeda training camp.
Jund al-Khilafah, an al-Qaeda front organisation claimed responsibility the shootings in a statement posted on jihadist websites.
“On … March 19th, our brother Yousef the Frenchman carried out an operation that shook the foundations of the Zionist Crusaders … and filled their hearts with terror,” it wrote.
“We claim responsibility for these operations,” it went on, adding that Israel’s “crimes … will not go unpunished.”
Mr Merah admitted responsibility for the shootings during long talks with negotiators, expressing no remorse other than he had not killed more people.
The scooter-driving gunman filmed all his murders with a mini-camera, and can be heard shouting “Alluha [sic] Akbar” and “You killed my brothers, I kill you” in two of the shootings.
He told authorities he had been trained by Al-Qaeda on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Claude GuÃ©ant, the Interior minister admitted that he had been under surveillance “for several years”, adding he had never “shown any sign of preparing criminal acts” at the outset of the seige.
Increasingly damning evidence suggested France was aware Mr Mehar posed a threat.
French intelligence had previously alerted security services in Spain that Mr Merah was planning to travel to the Costa Brava to attend a meeting of Islamist activists, suggesting they considered him dangerous.
The warning said that he was probably on his way to attend a suspected Salafist congress.
The prosecutor said that he had been arrested by Afghan police in 2010 in Kandahar and handed over to US army troops, who put him on a flight back to France — a claim US military did not confirm on Thursday.
When questioned last November by French intelligence about his foreign journeys, Mr Mehar managed to palm off agents with photos, saying he had been on a “tourist trip”.
His older brother, Abdelukar, 29, currently under arrest, had been in 2007 implicated in a Jihad network in Iraq but never charged.
Socialist Jean-Pierre Chevenement, a former defence and interior minister, said the killings were “a warning for services in charge of anti-terrorism”, and questioned whether Mr Mehar was a “lone wolf”, saying “too many arms, too many trips, too much money”….