‘Heir of Mohamed Merah’: French Cops Arrest Terror Suspect Inspired by Islamist Behind Jewish School Massacre in Toulouse
French media outlets revealed on Wednesday that a man who described himself as the “heir of Mohamed Merah” — the Islamist terrorist who murdered three young children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse in March 2012 — was arrested by security agents last week on suspicion of plotting his own terrorist attack against a school.
Broadcaster BFM TV reported that the man was seized in the Seine-et-Marne region near Paris on March 25 while attempting to obtain weapons. According to police, the man had been planning an attack on children at a nursery school, apparently following the example set by his hero, Merah. A second man was also arrested on charges of complicity.
During his interrogation by police officers, the main suspect, a 21-year-old, told police that he saw himself as Merah’s “heir.” He admitted that he had picked out a school as his target, and that his plan had been to kill some children and take others hostage, with the goal of dragging police into a gun battle. The man was subsequently charged on March 29 and remains in custody.
The arrested man was already the subject of a French intelligence file, BFM TV reported. Investigators who inspected his computer and cell phone said that he had attempted to erase his browsing history, including extensive use of the dark web.
Mohamed Merah himself was an Algerian-born French citizen who had trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Between March 11-15, 2012, Merah embarked on a shooting rampage in the cities of Montauban and Toulouse, murdering three French soldiers and seriously wounding another. On March 19, he launched a gun attack on the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, murdering Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, who taught at the school, together with his two sons, six-year-old Aryeh and three-year-old Gabriel. Merah then grabbed another child, eight-year-old Miriam Monsonego, and shot her through the head before escaping. Following a 30 hour siege at his apartment building in which six agents were wounded, Merah was shot dead by a police tactical unit on March 22, 2o12.