News

French PM Defends Decision Not to Surveil Merah

French prime minister Francois Fillon, left, leaves Elysee Palace, Paris, Jan. 4, 2012 (file photo).
French prime minister Francois Fillon, left, leaves Elysee Palace, Paris, Jan. 4, 2012 (file photo).

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has rejected accusations that his government could have prevented the killing spree allegedly carried out by a fundamentalist Muslim that left seven people dead.

Fillon said on French radio Friday that despite a criminal history, authorities had no specific reason to keep the suspect, 23-year-old Mohamed Merah, under permanent surveillance and no reason to think he would carry out such deadly attacks.


Meanwhile, police are keeping the suspect's mother, brother and the brother's girlfriend in detention, while they try to determine whether Merah acted alone or had accomplices.

Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian origin, was accused of killing three French paratroopers last week and a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse on Monday. The attacks were carried out from a motorbike, and authorities say the same weapon was used in all of the attacks. Prosecutor Francois Molins said the suspect filmed each of the attacks while carrying them out.

Investigators have begun collecting evidence at Merah's Toulouse apartment building, where he was killed Thursday by security forces after a 32-hour standoff.

Molins said special police units were instructed to do all they could to capture Merah alive. But when they entered his apartment early Thursday, he came out of the bathroom shooting and then jumped from the balcony. Molins said the suspect was shot in the head.

Officials say Merah espoused a radical form of Islam and had been to Afghanistan and the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan, where he claimed to have received training from al-Qaida. He also had a long record of petty crimes in France for which he served time in prison.

In a televised address Thursday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to crack down on extremist indoctrination, and said anyone who regularly visits websites that support terrorism or call for hate or violence will be punished by law. He promised new legislation that will punish people who go abroad to train as terrorists or who use the Internet to defend terrorism. He also called for healing and national unity in the wake of the shootings.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said Merah was on the list of known or suspected terrorists who are prohibited from flying to the United States. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said Merah had been on the no-fly list since 2010.

Merah told negotiators during the standoff that he had killed to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and to protest the French army's involvement in Afghanistan.

 

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gab- "Officials say Merah espoused a radical form of Islam"
March 23, 2012 12:00 PM
So who is selling this young guy assault rifles and guns, and where did he get his religious training? He did not get there in a vacuum. Does a radical for of Islam use a different Koran for instructions? What does this young guy do for a living that he can travel so much, has a car and a motorbike, and an assortment of deadly weapons? What does he do for a living?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs