Toulouse shootings suspect described as friendly and well-behaved was under surveillance after trip to Afghanistan
By Peter Beaumont
As the Toulouse siege unfolded on Wednesday, a fuller picture was emerging of the young man behind one of France’s worst killing sprees.
Some of the details remain contradictory, but it appears that Mohamed Merah, who shot a rabbi and three Jewish children dead at point-blank range, has a history of petty crime. An alleged former jihadi fighter, he was rejected by the French military two years ago.
On Wednesday morning he had been planning to kill again, he told negotiators, targeting a soldier he had already identified.
Most extraordinary was an almost certainly false claim that emerged during the armed siege of Merah’s apartment block: that in 2008 he escaped in a mass jailbreak in Kandahar, where he had been arrested for bombmaking the previous year. The claim was denied by Afghan security sources. Merah does appear to have spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but later than 2007. ….
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