RT | March 30, 2012
The Toulouse gunman may be dead and buried, but his dark legacy continues to stir up national passions in France. With French police arresting some 19 suspected Islamists in raids across the country, harsher anti-terror measures could be looming.
Mohamed Merah, the gunman behind the tragic shooting which killed seven, including three school children, in one of France’s worst terror attacks was buried in Toulouse on Thursday.
The case set French security services on high alert and sparked a vigorous debate among French politicians with the presidential campaign in full swing.
“From now on, anyone who regularly consults Internet sites which promote terror or hatred or violence will be sentenced to prison. Any person going abroad for the purposes of indoctrination in terrorist ideology will be criminally punished,” declared France`s acting President Nicolas Sarkozi, who is seeking another term.
Sarkozi also advocates tightening border controls, saying there are “too many foreigners in France.” He has also promised to bar radical Muslim preachers from entering the country to participate in an Islamic conference next month.
On Friday Sarkozy announced that the domestic intelligence agency carried out a series of raids in Toulouse, Nantes, Lyon, Marseille, Paris and Nice, arresting 19 Islamist suspects. The president added that more such raids are planned.
He gave no details about the justifications for the arrests, but said the operation was conducted “in connection with a form of Islamist radicalism.”
Police say they seized some weapons, including at least one Kalashnikov rifle.
Although the raids mainly took place in Toulouse, police say they are not connected with the case of Mohamed Merah, AP reports citing an anonymous police source.
Another presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, from the far right National Front, is pushing for a more radical anti-immigration line.
“How many Mohamed Merahs are there in the boats and planes that arrive in France full of immigrants? Mohamed Merah is perhaps only the tip of the iceberg,” she said.
Le Pen has called for “war on these fundamentalist political religious groups who are killing our children,” saying that “the threat of Islamic fundamentalism has been underestimated.”
Politicians may be throwing out what they call solutions, but the question is whether these policy ideas on immigration or security are realistic means of addressing the real problem.
While some are alarmed by such harsh rhetoric, others say these proposals are solely being made to get votes, as emotions remain charged after the Toulouse tragedy.
- Questions emerge over police handling of Toulouse, France killings (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Details emerging about Mohamed Merah, the alleged gunman in a series of murders in the Toulouse area from March 11 to March 19, raise serious questions about the conduct of French intelligence and police agencies.
Merah allegedly killed one paratrooper in Toulouse on March 11, two paratroopers in nearby Montauban on March 15, and a father and several children at a Jewish school in Toulouse on March 19. He was killed in an armed standoff with police at his Toulouse apartment Thursday, shot in the head by a sniper as he fell from his balcony.
Officials are scrambling to explain how Merah—though known to both French intelligence (DCRI, Central Directorate of Internal Intelligence) and to police—operated undetected for over a week, and why he was killed in the operation.
Speaking to Europe1 radio Thursday, Foreign Minister Alain Juppé admitted: “I understand why one would ask if there was an error or not. As I do not know whether there was an error, I cannot tell you what type of error, but we must shed light on this.”
Christian Prouteau, the founder of the GIGN (Intervention Group of the National Gendarmerie), a counterterrorism squad that rivals the elite police unit that killed Merah, criticized the assault yesterday. He said he was surprised that the standoff ended in Merah’s death: “How is it that the best police unit cannot arrest a lone man? They could have hit him with tear gas. Instead they threw armfuls of grenades at him. The result was that the criminal was put in a psychological state to continue his ‘war.’”
He added: “It may appear presumptuous, but in 64 GIGN operations under my command, there was not a single fatality.” Echoing comments by local Toulouse police, Prouteau asked why police did not simply wait in ambush outside Merah’s apartment and detain him as he left; this technique is apparently used often against Basque nationalists and mafia operatives.
These questions arose as incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy seeks to exploit the tragedy to push for wide-ranging police state powers, and to burnish his law-and-order credentials for next month’s presidential elections.
A recent CSA poll taken after the shootings showed Sarkozy increasing his vote, winning 30 percent of the vote in the first round of the elections versus 28 percent for Socialist Party (PS) candidate François Hollande. Hollande is still expected to win the second round of the elections, however, due to Sarkozy’s unpopularity outside the UMP’s voter base.
In a televised speech Thursday, Sarkozy called for “criminal punishment” of anyone reading internet sites that promote “terrorism” or “hatred,” traveling abroad for “indoctrination,” defending “extremist ideologies,” or promoting them inside prisons. Such proposals, couched in such broad terms as to allow the state to criminalize virtually any oppositional politics, trample basic constitutional rights of free speech and travel.
Magistrates Union official Marie-Blanche Régnier said Sarkozy’s call was a “political maneuver.” She rhetorically asked whether he would include Marine Le Pen, the neo-fascist candidate whose voters Sarkozy has aggressively wooed with anti-immigrant rhetoric, on the list of “extremists.”
Under conditions in which the PS, the Communist Party (PCF), and the New Anti-capitalist Party are not challenging Sarkozy’s calls for “national unity,” most objections to the investigations have come from police and security specialists. However, the details that have surfaced already make clear that, if Merah was indeed the killer, he was able to carry out the murders only due to a remarkable breakdown of French police and intelligence operations.
Given the immense political stakes in Sarkozy’s exploitation of the shootings, it is only logical to ask whether there is any connection between this breakdown of intelligence and Sarkozy’s attempt to save his chances in the upcoming elections.
Shortly after the March 15 Montauban killings, officials were already saying they were exploring “all possible suspects” in the murders. According to the daily Libération, when on March 19 Toulouse police provided investigators with a list of Islamist “radicals” in the Toulouse area, it had only six names on it, and Merah’s was at the top of the list. Merah was therefore well known to police.
After the Montauban killings, however, Merah was apparently not identified—even though his mother’s IP address was on a police list of computers that had been in contact with the March 11 victim. This list was examined carefully by investigators, and it eventually played a role in Merah’s capture. However, investigators apparently did not cross-check this list with the list of Islamists until Monday the 19, after the killings at the Ozar Hatoreh school.
Defense expert François Heisbourg told Libération, “There are only a few dozen Frenchmen who have traveled to Afghanistan, and only a few units in the Midi-Pyrénées region [around Toulouse]. One wonders why no one paid more attention to him! One can perhaps understand this before the Toulouse and Montauban killings—it’s surprising, but not shocking. But afterwards? This means that either the agencies involved are completely out of cash, or they are not doing their job.”
He added, “I am puzzled when I hear the Paris and Toulouse prosecutors explain that they did not have the suspect’s address. It seems the Central Directorate of Internal Intelligence (DCRI) interrogated him in the autumn and concluded he was not dangerous. How did they contact him if they did not have his address?”
Heisbourg also raised questions about Merah’s training as a gunman, apparently acquired during a couple of trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan, though he spent most of his time working as a mechanic: “This ‘lone wolf’ acted in ways the most experienced mafiosi do not dare attempt. He ran his operation himself, and carried out the killings with an unprecedented degree of cold calculation and absence of hysteria. Even the September 11 terrorists were more unnerved. He has therefore received absolutely first-rate training. Who trained him and how?”
Indeed, some questions remain as to whether Merah in fact was the killer. He did not resemble the description given by witnesses at the Montauban shooting, who spoke of a corpulent figure with tattoos and a scar on the left cheek. By contrast, Merah was thin and had no facial markings.
The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy was criticised yesterday for comparing the killing of three children and a rabbi in a shooting attack in France to the situation in Gaza.
At the “Palestine refugees in the changing Middle East” conference in Brussels, Baroness Ashton, described the murders in Toulouse as a “terrible tragedy”, but she then added: “When we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”
Seemingly some prominent Jewish and Israeli leaders couldn’t agree less. For them Jewish suffering exceeds all other suffering and Palestinian’s in particular.
The London Jewish Chronicle quoted some of the outraged critics. “Even when read in context, Ashton’s words are beyond unacceptable,” said Oliver Worth, the British chairman of the World Union of Jewish Students. He said they were “truly outrageous and revolting” and called for her to resign because she had “lost all credibility”. And yet, Mr Worth fails to explain why is it “outrageous and revolting” to equate Jewish suffering with Palestinian one.
“Baroness Ashton’s remarks were both crass and wholly inappropriate,” said the chief executives of the Board of Deputies, yet he also fails to provide any reasoning.
“There is absolutely no equivalence between the situation in Gaza and the cold and callous murder of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and the three children,” said Stefan Kerner, director of public affairs for the Zionist Federation. And I wonder why there is no ‘equivalence’, is it because the Jews are yet to withdraw from Toulouse? Or may be Mr Kerner actually expects the French to withdraw from Toulouse and to leave it to Rabbi Sandler and a few other Jews. I obviously find it really difficult to follow the Zionist logic anymore.
The Rabbi added: “For a person in Baroness Ashton’s position to even consider her comments appropriate is disgraceful. She should withdraw her statement immediately and apologise unreservedly for the offence that she has caused.” And I wonder why is it offensive to Jews when someone equates their grief with Goyim’s suffering. Does the Rabbi really believe that Jewish suffering is somehow superior?
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Minister, said he viewed her remarks as “inappropriate”. He said he hoped that she “re – examines and retracts them”. And I wonder, what kind of a retraction would please the Israeli Government. Do they really expect Baroness Ashton to accept that Jewish suffering is the ultimate form of human grief?
Israeli war criminal as well as Opposition leader Tzipi Livni also, attempted to offer some reasoning. She described Ashton’s remark as “reprehensible, infuriating, and wrong” to draw any link “between the murder of children in Toulouse and the massacre Assad is leading in Syria and the situation in Gaza”. Livni may be right for a change, the crime committed in Gaza by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish People is indeed unique in the history of brutality. Also the fact that 94% of the Israeli Jewish population supported IDF genocdial tactics at the time of operation Cast Lead is also very unique. Israel’s war crimes are indeed uniquely cruel and beyond comparison.
But Livni didn’t just stop there, she tried to qualify her statement. “A hate crime or a leader murdering his people is not like a country fighting terror, even if civilians are hurt.” According to Lvini, the Baroness had failed to make “the appropriate moral distinction”. To start with we do not know yet what led to the tragic event in Toulouse. However, the fact that Israel defines the Palestinians as “terrorists” is yet to provide the Jewish State with an moral excuse to slay the indigenous people of the land and to abuse every possible human right.
I guess that we are all becoming impervious to Jewish political logic. But maybe this is another symptom of the Zionification of our reality. From now on we are expected to obey.