Police in Toulouse
Photo: Reuters
French special forces on the scene

'Toulouse suspect planned another terror attack'

Dramatic police standoff vis-à-vis of Mohammed Merah, suspected shooting on Jewish school in Toulouse, ongoing; French authorities say he was planning another, imminent attack

TOULOUSE – The gunman suspected of killing of seven people in the name of al-Qaeda has yet to be arrested, French authorities said Wednesday afternoon.


Conflicting media reports suggested that a long siege placed on Mohammed Merah's Toulouse home ended with his arrest, but French Interior Minister Claude Gueant denied that Merah was in custody.


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Speaking to reporters earlier, Gueant said that Merah, who is the prime suspect in the shooting on Ozar Hatorah Jewish School in Toulouse on Monday, "wanted revenge for the Palestinian children and he also wanted to take revenge on the French army because of its foreign interventions."  



A police source said the raid began at 3 am local time (2 am GMT). Judicial officials said three of his relatives have been arrested. 


France 24 TV channel quoted Merah as saying, "I will go to prison with my head held high or die with a smile. Nothing else." It is not clear how the station obtained the quote.


As the standoff with Merah crossed the 12-hour mark, more detailed began emerging as to his other nefarious plans. .


כוחות משטרה מחוץ לבית הנצור בטולוז (צילום: AP)

Police outside suspect's home


French Prosecutor Francois Molins said that the psychological profiling of Merah, suggests he has a history of violence and that he has been suffering from mental illness since his youth.


Molins added that authorities had intelligence suggesting that Merah planned to kill another soldier imminently.


The French prosecutor added that Merah had been to Afghanistan twice, where he had allegedly fought with insurgent groups in Kandahar’s Sarposa prison.


Still, Merah's friends paint a different portrait of his than Molins. French newspaper Le Figaro quoted one of his friends as saying that Merah was "never perceived as a Jihadist, as someone capable of murdering a child… He was never a violent person."


'Citing Israel as motive is sacrilege'

The attack claimed the lives Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, his 3-year-old and 6-year-old sons Gabriel and Arieh and eight-year-old Miriam Monsonego, daughter of school headmaster Rabbi Yaacov Monsonego.


The four's bodies were flown to Israel overnight and laid to rest in Jerusalem on Wednesday. 


Sarkozy in Toulouse (Photo: Reuters)


President Sarkozy met with various Jewish religious leaders in Toulouse, not far from the scene of the standoff between the police Merah.


Speaking with Nicole Yardeni, the regional representative of the Council of French Jewish Institutions, he said: "The mere fact that this heinous killer mentioned Israel as the motive for his massacre is a sacrilege."


The French president further said that authorities have intelligence suggesting that Merah was planning to carry out another attack on Wednesday.


Security forces have so far refrained from storming his home because they do not have accurate information as to the type and amount of munitions he may have, he added.  


Menachem Gantz is on special assignment for Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth in Toulouse, France 


News agencies contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 03.21.12, 15:36
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