March 22, 2012
A 23-year-old Frenchman who claimed responsibility for killing four men and three children was shot dead on Thursday as security forces stormed the apartment where he had been holed up for more than 30 hours, French officials said.
François Molins, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation, said the suspect, identified as Mohammed Merah, was shot in the head as he jumped out a window, firing wildly at the assault force.
Just before noon, officers entered the apartment through a front door and windows that had been blasted out, Claude Guéant, the French interior minister, said. Inside the apartment, the suspect, identified as Mohammed Merah, emerged from a bathroom “firing with extreme violence,” Mr. Guéant said.
“At the end, Mohammed Merah jumped out a window with a weapon in his hand, still firing,” he said. “He was found dead on the ground.”
More than 300 rounds were discharged in the firefight, Mr. Guéant said, and two officers were lightly wounded.
French government ministers had said that they hoped to take him alive.
The assault force had entered the apartment and slowly searched each room using video equipment. Not finding Mr. Merah in any of the other rooms, they came to the bathroom last, Mr. Guéant said. As the police began to inspect it with the cameras, Mr. Merah sprang out and began firing.
“France has just been through an ordeal,” President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a televised address shortly after the operation. He praised the work of French security forces and said the episode would prompt him to seek changes in the law to criminalize travel abroad by French citizens for training or “indoctrination” by terror groups. Mr. Sarkozy also indicated plans to criminalize the viewing of Web sites that “applaud terrorism.”
Mr. Merah, with a history of delinquency, disaffection and identification with Al Qaeda, personified what terrorism experts describe as a violent, homegrown militant who operates on his own _ the profile European terrorism experts find particularly difficult to identify and combat.
A former garage mechanic of Algerian descent, Mr. Merah made two trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years, and said that he had been trained by Al Qaeda. Though Mr. Merah had initially indicated to negotiators that he hoped to live, Mr. Guéant told French radio earlier on Thursday he wanted “to die with weapons in his hands.”
Mr. Merah had barricaded himself in the apartment building in the quiet neighborhood of Côte Pavée on Wednesday, after police attempted to arrest him shortly after 3 a.m.
A series of explosions and gunshots which began before midnight continued into the early hours of Thursday, when French news media reported that security forces were attempting to destroy a window at the suspect’s apartment, deprive him of sleep and let in the night cold in the hope that Mr. Merah might surrender peacefully.
But those hopes diminished late on Wednesday after Mr. Merah indicated that “if he was taken, he would kill police officers,” Mr. Guéant said.
In the first six hours of the standoff, the suspect fired several heavy volleys at officers trying to enter his apartment, wounding two, though neither seriously. At one point he tossed a .45-caliber pistol from the window, the same kind used in each of the three attacks, and was given some kind of “means of communication,” according to the authorities, presumably a cellphone or walkie-talkie.
“He expressed no regrets, saving only that he did not have the time to reach more victims,” François Molins, the Paris prosecutor responsible for overseeing antiterror investigations in France, said, adding that Mr. Merah said he had planned to kill a soldier on Wednesday morning, and at some point to kill two police officers here.
A top editor at the news channel France 24 said in a televised interview that she had spoken by telephone to a man who claimed to be the shooter in the hours before the police surrounded Mr. Merah’s building. “He was calm, was speaking in very good French and punctuated by Arabic expressions,” said the editor, Ebba Kalondo. She also said he spoke of planning more attacks and of intending to post video of his killings online.
Mohammed Merah, the man believed to be the gunman on a scooter who killed seven people in south-western France, is a 23-year-old French citizen of Algerian extraction.
Before the shootings in Toulouse and Montauban, he was brought to French attention because of visits he made to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he reportedly escaped from prison while serving a sentence for carrying bomb-making equipment.
He was also known to the French authorities because he had a criminal record for non-terrorist crimes.
Police surrounded him at a block of flats in Toulouse after the shootings, in which three French soldiers and a rabbi and three Jewish children were killed.
According to the French authorities, he said he had sought to avenge Palestinian children and to attack the French army because of its foreign interventions.
He had described himself as an Islamist warrior and member of the al-Qaeda network.
French news channel BFM TV said he was linked to Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride), an Islamist group banned last month in France.
French broadcaster France 24 said it had received a call from a man claiming to be the gunman.
He allegedly told a journalist he had “filmed all the murders” and that the videos “would be posted online shortly”.
Two years ago I learnt that he had suddenly become radicalised and had left for Afghanistan”
Christian Etelin Lawyer to Mohammed Merah
The suspect is from Toulouse where he grew up on the Izards housing estate, according to French newspaper JDD.
He later moved into the block of flats on Sergent Vigne Street, in a quiet part of the city, where he was surrounded by police.
A neighbour described him as a “quiet man with a beard” who had “never done anything special”.
In 2010, he applied to join the French Foreign Legion but failed on his first day, French magazine Le Point reports.
From a family of five children, the suspect is a mechanic by trade, according to Le Point.
With 18 acts of violence on his record, he was considered a juvenile delinquent when growing up.
However, two of his friends said he was a “nice guy” who “got on well with everyone”, JDD reports.
One of them, Samir, said Mohammed Merah had been seen in a Toulouse night club only last week.
“I served in the army and he never said anything to me about it,” he added.
“I am also shocked he killed North Africans. We can’t believe it.”
Mohammed Merah visited Pakistan twice, in 2010 and 2011, French reports say.
According to French newspaper Le Monde, he trained with militants in Pakistan before crossing the border, where at one stage he was stopped by an Afghan police patrol.
How French police tracked down the gunman
He was not arrested but the police reported his nationality to the Western authorities, Le Monde says.
Other French sources say he was arrested in Kandahar at the end of 2010 on a non-terrorist charge.
However, BBC News has learnt that he may have been in the region much earlier.
The director of Kandahar prison, Gulam Farooq, said a Mohammed Merah had been sentenced to three years in prison in 2007 after being arrested carrying bomb-making equipment.
The following year, this prisoner escaped along with several hundred others during a Taliban assault on the prison, Mr Farooq added.
Afghan officials reportedly alerted French police about Mohammed Merah’s activities.
In the days before police closed in on him, he was seen by a neighbour praying on a football pitch near his block of flats.
He reportedly became radicalised years ago while serving a brief prison sentence for a violent crime, Le Point says.
When his mother was asked by police to assist in police negotiations, she reportedly refused, saying she no longer had any influence over her son.
French lawyer Christian Etelin, who defended the suspect in non-terrorist proceedings in recent years, told AFP he had not given the impression of being a fanatic and had never talked about Islam to him.
“But two years ago I learnt that he had suddenly become radicalised and had left for Afghanistan,” the lawyer added.
After the first two shootings, in Toulouse and Montauban, the suspect was “in the sights” of France’s domestic intelligence service, the DCRI, along with others, an unnamed official told AFP news agency.
A crucial piece of evidence appears to have been an email account used to contact the first shooting victim, who had advertised a motorcycle online.
Mohammed Merah was born on October 10th, 1988 (time of birth unknown) in Toulouse, France according to http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammed_Merah
October 10th, 1988
10 + 10 +1+9+8+8 = 46 = his life lesson = Personal history. So young.
October 10th, 1988
10 + 10 +2+0+1+1 = 24 = his personal year (from October 10th, 2011 to October 9th, 2012) = Taking charge.
24 year + 3 (March) = 27 = his personal month (from March 10th, 2012 to April 9th, 2012) = Acting out of character.
27 + 20 (20th of the month on Tuesday March 20th, 2012) = 47 = his personal day (from his time of birth on Tuesday March 20th, 2012 until his time of birth on Wednesday March 21st, 2012) = Internationally known. Name recognition.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
46814454 45918 63
his path of destiny = 63 = Suicidal. Tragedy. Living nightmare.
comprehensive summary and list of predictions for 2012:
learn numerology from numerologist to the world, Ed Peterson: