For Mohamed Merah, the Frenchman suspected of killing four Jews and three Muslim soldiers in southwestern France, the road to radicalization ran from a delinquent childhood in Toulouse to Kandahar in Afghanistan.
Merah, 24, who was holed up in a suburban Toulouse apartment on Wednesday, besieged by police commandos from the elite RAID unit, claimed affiliation with al Qaida and said he wanted to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children, French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.
The suspect, a French citizen of Algerian origin, had been under surveillance by France’s domestic intelligence service for at least two years after being identified in Afghanistan.
Mohamad Merah, like any other regular man led a relatively normal life with everyday routines, and showed no sign of militancy, according to friends and neighbours who had no idea that he had been to the Asian battleground.
though, me rah had a string of 15 convictions by juvenile courts, mostly invoking theft and served up to 18 months in French prison in 2007-09 which has been expressed by his lawyer, Christian Etelin that that may have been Mohamad’s push to radicalism. Etelin says that Merah separated with his wife just days before the first attack March 11 and so Merah suffered ‘psychological difficulties’. ( http://goo.gl/MTlHB )
Exactly when and how Merah slid from petty crime to Islamist radicalism remains unclear.
“His radicalisation took place in a Salafist ideological group and seems to have been firmed up by two journeys he made to Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the interior minister said.
Gueant denied there had been any security lapse in failing to prevent his killing spree, saying: “There was no evidence that he was planning criminal actions.”
A French security source said Merah had spent about a year in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. The gunman said he had undergone military training with al Qaeda in the Pakistani province of Waziristan, Molins told reporters.
U.S. officials declined comment on any role in handling Merah in Afghanistan but said they believed he was probably not affiliated with what remains of the core al Qaeda organisation created by the late Osama bin Laden and led now by Ayman al Zawahiri.
Instead, they believe he is probably a lone wolf, or almost-lone-wolf, with at most a handful of associates including perhaps his brother.
it was said Mohamed Merah made his own way to Afghanistan without using networks of facilitators under surveillance by Western intelligence. His second Afghan stay in 2011 was cut short after three months when he contracted hepatitis A and returned to France in mid-October, the prosecutor said.
The daily Le Monde said Merah had trained with Pakistani Taliban fighters in a border tribal zone before being sent into southwestern Afghanistan to fight against NATO forces supporting the Kabul government.
with his training and supposed ‘psychological difficulties’ Merah, now dead, sought out to viciously murder 7 people and video recording the killings.