France cut Merah spying months before rampage

Documents by French agency show surveillance of gunman who killed 4 Jews was curtailed despite evidence of extremism.

French Toulouse shooter Mohamed Merah 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/France 2 Television)
French Toulouse shooter Mohamed Merah 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/France 2 Television)
France reduced the surveillance of Mohamed Merah, the gunman who killed seven people in Toulouse last March, months before his attacks, French media reported on Friday.
The reports cited leaked documents from the country’s domestic intelligence service.
Merah gunned down four Jewish people in the southern French city during his killing spree, including three children outside of a local Jewish school, along with three soldiers.
According to these documents received by AFP, agents of the intelligence service decided to reduce their surveillance of the then-suspect, who was under intense surveillance throughout 2011.
The intelligence services were monitoring Merah since 2006, but he bore closer scrutiny in January after he came back from Afghanistan, where he was detained in November 2010.
The documents revealed that between March and July 2011, he was suspected of being in contact with “radical Islamist movements in Toulouse,” having a “paranoid behavior” and receiving funds from extremists.
But in November, the intelligence services decided that only “selective” monitoring was required for him, since there existed “no link between Mohamed Merah and an eventual jihadist network.”
Merah, 26, was killed during an assault launched by a special anti-terrorist unit of the French police at his apartment in Toulouse, a few days after he committed the murders.