PARIS — The death of Mohamed Merah, the suspected French killer who met his end Thursday in a barrage of special-forces gunfire, left officials piecing together how he became the alleged homegrown terrorist behind the most violent attacks on French soil in almost two decades.Continue reading.
On Thursday, a more-complete picture emerged of Mr. Merah, who police say conducted seven point-blank killings in and around Toulouse over the previous 11 days.
Over recent years, according to the emerging accounts, the French citizen of Algerian descent appeared to be looking for a place to belong—seeking twice, without success, to join the French armed services.
He had also, according to his own account, sought to belong to al Qaeda. On Wednesday, as he was pinned inside a Toulouse apartment by special forces, he told a police negotiator he had trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and in the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan. Western intelligence agencies couldn't confirm his claims.
Controversy emerged Thursday over whether French authorities should have been watching Mr. Merah more closely. The U.S. put him on its no-fly list as a suspected terrorist, U.S. officials say, because in 2010 he had been in custody in Afghanistan and then sent back to France. France put him on a watch list of suspected Islamist militants, but stopped short of including him on a narrower surveillance list.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé on Thursday said authorities should investigate whether there was a failure by French intelligence gatherers. "I can't tell you what kind of failure, but we need to shed some light on that," he told French radio.
Also, "French Shooting Suspect Was on U.S. No-Fly List."