Chilling: Videos of Toulouse Terrorist Standoff Published
French police have begun an investigation into the video leaks of taped exchanges between police and the Toulouse terrorist who killed four at a yeshiva in March According to the AFP. The terrorist, 23-year-old Mohammed Merah, can be heard declaring to police officials on the recordings that he would be willing to die for his crimes.
Merah’s victims included three Jewish children and a rabbi from the Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse, as well as three uniformed French soldiers. The murdered victims’ families condemned the broadcast of the recordings while legal sources informed the press that an investigation by the Paris prosecutor is underway, looking into the tapes’ leak.
On the early evening news program “Sept a Huit,” French station TF1 ran segments of the haunting exchanges at a Toulouse apartment that were recorded during the 32-hour standoff where the police had confronted in Merah. In the recordings, Merah can be heard saying “I know that there’s a chance you could kill me, that’s a risk I’m taking.”
Merah also added: “So there we are – know that you are up against a man who is not afraid of death.”
The terrorist was eventually killed in the shootout between him and the police.
The French government, including Interior Minister Manuel Valls, also denounced the media’s decision to run the videos in a statement issued shortly after the program aired, regretting that it had come at a time when court proceedings relating to the killings were still ongoing. The video publication “showed a lack of respect to relatives of the victims,” said Valls in a statement.
The IGPN, the police unit responsible for internal investigations, will be embarking on an investigation, the interior ministry informed the AFP.
Meanwhile, the producer of “Sept a Huit” Emmanuel Chain, defended the show’s decision to broadcast the tapes.
“We acted responsibly,” Chain said, saying the videos had significant news value. “We learn how Merah trained with Al-Qaeda, his determination…it has been very much put in context,” he added. Chain also claimed that the show decided to broadcast the tapes with the Toulouse victims in mind.
The victims’ families, however, do not see it that way. Samia Maktouf, a lawyer representing the relatives, said they are willing to go to court in order to prohibit any further broadcast of the videos on any medium.
“The victims are outraged to learn the contents of these negotiations on television,” Maktouf said.
She also added that if the videos are uploaded on the internet, “the damage then will be irreversible.”
After Merah filmed the shootings himself, al-Jazeera received a copy on a USB memory key at its Paris bureau in March. Al-Jazeera decided not to broadcast the recordings in the end and the main French television networks also claimed that they would not run the footage if it became available.
The case further underscored inadequacies in French counter-terrorism operations, with authorities criticized for not taking action against Merah even though they knew he had spent time in Pakistan and Afghanistan, most likely for terror training activity.