French Terrorist in Armed Standoff with Police, Claims Links to Al Qaeda
Mohammed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent and a man French police say has spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has admitted to killing 4 people at a Jewish school in Southern France, along with 3 others within the last 10 days, and is currently in an armed standoff with French security officials two miles from the scene of Monday’s attack.
According to the French newspaper Le Point, Merah had been incarcerated in 2007 and 2009, and it was during his time in prison that he turned to radical Islam.
French SWAT team members have surrounded an apartment building in Toulouse, the same town in which Monday’s brutal attack occurred, and a negotiator has been speaking with Merah for hours.
Merah told police during the standoff that his attack on Ozar Hatorah, the Jewish school in Toulhouse, was to “avenge Palestinian children” and that the three soldiers killed during his recent rampage were because of France’s military presense in Afghanistan. Merah has claimed affiliation with Al-Qaeda but authorities have not confirmed the claim.
Numerous reports say that Merah exchanged a pistol – the same caliber used in Monday’s killings – after two police officers were wounded attempting to enter his apartment, in return for a telephone device. Merah currently has an Kalashnikov rifle, Uzi machine gun, and other arms in his possession.