Earlier coverage observed that Merah had “been surprised: he thought he’d be able to continue his offensive and carry on with the killings and it’s clear that he hadn’t prepared anything (in the event of a siege).”
With any luck, his hubris and lack of preparation may lead to the untangling of a larger web of jihadists. “Toulouse gunman Mohammed Merah had links to Islamic extremists in Britain,” by Peter Allen for the Daily Mail, March 24:
The Al Qaeda gunman who shot dead seven people in France was in touch with British Islamic extremists as recently as last year, security sources in Paris said yesterday.
Mohammed Merah, 23, who was killed when police commandos stormed his flat in Toulouse last week, is said to have met UK-based jihadists on a visit to Afghanistan. His codename — “˜Youssef Toulouse” — was passed to British security agents. […]
Merah’s brother Abdelkader, 29, and his 30-year-old wife, who has not been named, face charges of “˜conspiracy to commit terrorist acts”.
Abdelkader has now been charged. His girlfriend, who is reportedly not legally his wife under French law, but only according to an Islamic ceremony, is apparently off the hook for the moment.
Abdelkader has boasted of feeling “˜very proud” of his brother, who killed three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers.
Merah had been tracked by French authorities since he broke out of an Afghan prison in 2008. He worked as a mechanic in France, but returned to the Middle East to train with the Taliban. He is thought to have gone to Pakistan in 2010 and reached the Afghan capital Kabul that November. He was picked up by US security agents and sent back to France.
Detectives believe Merah and his brother, an international terrorist suspect, were involved in two Islamist organisations, Forsane Alizza (The Knights of Pride) and Al Qaeda splinter group Jund al-Khilafah.
And what goeth before a fall, again? Oh, yes.
A security source in Paris said: “˜Not only were members of these groups in touch with British jihadists while in Europe, they would also have met them in Afghanistan.”
One of the groups was formed with the aim of targeting Western interests in Europe and sending recruits to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It was a “˜structured organisation” that maintained links with similar networks in Britain, the source said. In 2009 several of its members were found guilty of terror-related offences….