There was no way French security forces could have arrested the man believed to have carried out the fatal shooting at the Jewish school in Toulouse prior to the attack, said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe during a visit to Israel on Wednesday.
true that there are lists of people who may be suspect in such events
because of their ties to terror groups," Juppe said through a
translator. "However, the link between this man and the attacks... that
link was made only on Monday night and could have been made only after
to press at the French Ambassador's Residence in Jaffa, the minister
praised French security forces saying they did everything they could to
speedily arrest the suspect believed to have committed the "acts of
barbarism" at Ozar Hatorah which left four people - a teacher, his two
children and another child - dead.
"The minute after the attack
the government gave immediate orders to act," he was quoted as saying by
his translator. "There was a maximum security alert. The aim of the
investigation was clear: to reach the suspect as soon as possible and we
see its success because this morning the man was found -if my
information is correct- and has barricaded himself in an apartment in
Juppe said he wanted to avoid speculation over whether
the events of the past few days will affect the campaigns for the
presidential and parliamentary elections set to be held later in the
year. He also chose not to answer a question relating to whether the
shootings in and near Toulouse had any relation to French foreign policy
French Foreign Minister said he was dispatched to Israel at the behest
of French President Nicolas Sarkozy on a mission of solidarity with the
Jewish people and Israel.
"France is determined to fight
terrorism using all of its resources and I would like to express
solidarity with Israel which has dealt with, is dealing with and will
probably continue to deal with the horrors of terrorism," he said.
suspected gunman was still holed up in a residential building after a
12-hour police siege in the city of Toulouse, France 24 reported
Wednesday. The television station cited the French Interior Ministry
denying reports that the gunman had been arrested.
unfolding drama that riveted France and the world, about 300 police,
some in body armor, had cordoned off a four-story building in a suburb
of Toulouse where the 24-year-old Muslim shooter, identified as Mohamed
Merah, had been holed up.
Interior Minister Claude Gueant said the gunman was a French citizen of
Algerian origin who had been to Pakistan and Afghanistan and had told
police negotiators he had carried out his attacks to avenge the deaths
of Palestinian children and because of the French army's involvement in
Authorities in Afghanistan confirmed that Merah had been arrested
for bomb making in the lawless southern province of Kandahar in 2007
but escaped months later in a massive Taliban prison break.
removed other residents from the building and began evacuating other
nearby homes. A police source had said earlier that authorities would
not allow the siege to drag on indefinitely.
said Merah, who had been under surveillance since the attack on the
first soldiers last week, wanted revenge "for Palestinian children and
he also wanted to attack the French army because of its foreign
He told journalists Merah was a member of an
ideological Islamic group in France but this organisation was not
involved in plotting any violence.
He said Merah had thrown a Colt
45 pistol of the kind used in all the shootings out of a window of the
block of flats in exchange for a mobile phone, but was still armed.
sources said they had conducted a controlled explosion of the suspect's
car at around 9:00 a.m. after discovering it was loaded with weapons.
Merah's girlfriend and brother, also known to authorities as a radical Islamist, have also been arrested, officials said.
Suspect tracked down through IP address
Gueant said Merah had contacted the first soldier he attacked under the pretext of wanting to buy his motorcycle.
identified the IP address he used - that of his mother - because he was
already under surveillance for radical Islamist beliefs.
"We knew, and that is why he was under surveillance, that he had traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan," the minister said.
telephone of the man and his family was tapped from Monday and with the
help of other information the police decided to raid his house. Merah
has a criminal record in France, Gueant said, but nothing indicating
such an attack was possible.
A police source told Reuters that
investigators had also received a tipoff from a scooter repair shop in
Toulouse where the gunman asked to change the colour of the Yamaha
scooter used to flee the shootings and to remove a GPS tracker device.
group of young men from Merah's neighborhood described him as a polite
man of slight build who liked football and motorbikes and did not seem
"He isn't the big bearded guy that you can
imagine, you know the cliche," said Kamal, who declined to give his
family name. "When you know a person well you just can't believe they
could have done something like this."
In Jerusalem, the victims
from the Ozar Hatorah school were laid to rest on Wednesday morning.
Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin said in his eulogy at the Givat Shaul
cemetery that the attack was inspired by "wild animals with hatred in
Authorities said on Tuesday that the gunman had
apparently filmed his rampage through the school. He wounded Rabbi
Jonathan Sandler as he entered the building, then shot an 8-year-old
girl in the head, before returning to kill Sandler and his two children,
who had rushed to his side, at point blank range.