France publishes final report on Merah affair

Report confirms Merah, who had been a well-known Islamist terrorist in Toulouse, had been under DCRI surveillance since 2006.

By JOSEPH STRICH
October 24, 2012 01:48
1 minute read.
Alleged photo of Mohamed Merah from French TV.

French Toulouse shooter Mohamed Merah 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/France 2 Television)

 
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The final report on the Mohamed Merah Affair, which has gained importance in France as it begins its fight against terrorism, was published there on Tuesday.

Last March, Mohamed Merah, a young French Muslim originally from Algiers, murdered seven people – including three Jewish children and the father of two of them – in the southern city of Toulouse.

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A few days after the incident, the French police’s special intelligence unit, the DCRI, raided Merah’s apartment and killed him.

Since then, every day sees a new revelation about Merah, his radical network and his surveillance by the police for years.

Recently, Interior Minister Manuel Valls asked the Inspection Générale de la Police to make a complete report on the affair. The aim of the report was “to reinforce the efficacy of the services in the face of mutations of the terrorist threat,” he explained Tuesday during a visit to DCRI headquarters in Levallois-Perret, near Paris, just before the report became official.

The report confirmed that Merah, who had been a well-known Islamist terrorist in Toulouse, had been under DCRI surveillance since 2006, but that there had not been a real awareness of the gravity of the threat he posed.

“It was not a matter of human error, but all together a conjunction of omissions and mistakes in judgment and problems of leadership, organization of the services and the division of labor among the various departments,” the report said.

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The report highlighted the lack of coordination among all the services involved in the operation. For one thing, Merah’s apartment was not even under proper surveillance, said the report, adding that the DCRI’s reaction time was too slow. It also cited the passivity of the Toulouse police while awaiting orders, and the “unreadiness” of the agents who had interrogated Merah in November 2011.

According to the report, Merah’s trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan were known and he was already considered a “direct threat,” due to connections with his Islamist fighter brother Abd el-Kader and other alleged members of radical groups who were arrested in 2009.

The report offers concrete suggestions for “strengthening detection, surveillance and investigation” and for the creation of “new structures” inside the DCRI “in order to fight terrorism.”

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