There is no innocent start to any murderous rampage, battle or war. Each and every time there is a breakdown of communications and understanding, the inner human rage emerges the winner and subsequent actions produce the true hero or villain in us all. It should also be noted that at these times, great feats of strength and endurance are evident.
Hero or villain then is a point of view. In all cases the dead are memorialized by one side while being defiled by the other, the only common threads are the events themselves as testimony, provided of course they are accurately reported.
Mohammed Merah was a French citizen of Algerian descent. Living in Toulouse, France for at least this last part of his life, Merah has been identified by authorities as a petty street criminal, that assessment applied in description because Merah had served an unknown period of time in prison. Police and the French Interior Minister declared openly that Merah was radicalized while in prison. Such a statement is disingenuous in large part. Merah traveled away from France and in some unknown, possible but quite secret means appeared in Pakistan and then Afghanistan.
It was there he participated in Al Qaeda training as a jihadi fighter and was subsequently captured on the battlefield and sent to prison. In 2008, Merah was one of the several dozens of terrorist prisoners freed in an Al Qaeda-Taliban prison break. He was later re-captured by U.S.-NATO forces where he produced an Afghani passport and papers, none of which properly matched Merah. It was determined that he was a French citizen and turned over to French-NATO forces in Afghanistan.
A horrible misstep occurs at some point here, which breeches the lines of cooperation and trust between military and police authorities from different countries despite the fact they were both parts of a cooperative military force known as NATO. A similar detachment of faith and trust exists within the United Nations ranks, but that is of no consequence here; but vital to understanding of concepts for reference elsewhere. Merah is repatriated to France and returns or settles in Toulouse. As you should note there are many details here that will be scrutinized in the coming weeks and whether any of it becomes public knowledge or not will be telling.
The following texts are extracts of Tweets regarding this event in Toulouse, most from reporters camped out in the surrounds waiting for a story. Once the suspect was identified and found confined to his apartment, the media descended upon the neighborhood like so many rabid dogs, some seeking to report the truth, others to sensationalize the events. From out of the tension, the Le Monde reporter demonstrates the vital statistics of his 31-hour endurance marathon. What this says about the man, the reporter, doesn’t seem to matter after the smoke had cleared, these some four hours after Mr. Merah defied French Special Weapons and Tactics police and died in a moment of glory that will be lionized throughout the Middle East and in mosques everywhere.
To Islam, he is both a hero and a martyr. To me, well I believe that Hollywood has got nothing on the man except to point out it is as though well-scripted by writers in many Police Dramas and video games of certain violent themes. Perhaps, those writers will seek to file suit against terrorist organizations everywhere for copyright infringement. I can only hope.
1500: More from AFP: A group called Jund al-Khilafah which has previously claimed responsibility for attacks in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, says it carried out the shootings in France - according to the US monitoring group Site.
1450: AFP reports that an organisation linked to al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the Toulouse killings.
1428: Al-Qaeda expert Mathieu Guidere tells Le Figaro that in his opinion Mohammed Merah's background mixes "classical" elements of the jihadi (visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan, wanting to take part in al-Qaeda training camps) with newer aspects. Mr Guidere says he also fits into the "new terrorist" profile of a "lone wolf": originating from the country attacked, becoming radicalised in their own neighbourhoods, acting alone.
1355: Francois Molins reiterates that they did everything they could to capture Merah alive.
1354: One of Mohammed Merah's brothers went to a shop on Thursday last week and asked advice on how to repaint a scooter.
1352: The prosecutor says that police identified Merah's address on Monday evening and were able to trace telephone calls.
1347: The gunman was wearing a bulletproof vest and shot at police as they entered the apartment about 30 times using a Colt 45.
1346: "We did everything we could to arrest him alive," the prosecutor said.
1346: Mohammed Merah was killed by a bullet in the head from a police sniper as he tried to flee, Mr Molins said.
1345: The gunman filmed all three attacks, he says.
1330: Le Monde's Soren Seelow, who tweeted from the site of the siege throughout the night, writes that he is ending his live-tweet marathon after 31 hours. That's 230 tweets, 10,000 followers, 14 phone recharges, 12 coffees, 6 beers, 3 packets of cigarettes and one hour of sleep, he adds.
1105: In describing the final moments of the confrontation, Mr Gueant said the policeman tried to protect themselves from the assault by Mohammed Merah. At the end Merah jumped through a window with one weapon in his hand still shooting, and he was then found dead on the ground
The seemingly pointless blather is full of details that will be sorely missed in the final analysis. Having heard as much as possible from various live-feeds, I can summarize the whole affair that it becomes clear here. I seriously doubt you will read it like this anywhere else.
Eventually, most criminals are their own demise. For Mohammed Merah and his two brothers, it appears the weak link will be the brothers. The terrorist was trained well enough to secret himself out of the country with falsified paperwork, which itself is testament to the determination of Al Qaeda and other like-minded groups around the world. Merah’s brothers were used to make inquiries on his behalf to avoid identification. It was one of them that piqued the interest of the Yamaha dealer in Toulouse, asking about stripping the bike for re-painting and then of all things, the location of the GPS tracking device that is ‘standard equipment’ on new vehicles everywhere. Surely you will want to know that regardless of whether or not you subscribe to GM’s On-Star service, that GM is indeed keeping track of your every move in any of their vehicles since about 2003. Perhaps that is one reason they went bankrupt.
Merah, once identified, locked himself into his apartment in Toulouse. The police cordoned off the neighborhood; evacuating as many civilians as possible for the obvious safety reasons often given and ignored. Police located and searched his automobile finding a couple of handguns, an AK-47, ammunition and other explosives in the trunk. The French will likely use this epiphany to tweak their methods since all of these items are prohibited in France (Europe actually) so obviously, Merah had a lot of help. When questioned during the stand-off, the Terrorist claimed he financed the acquisition of the forbidden equipment through petty theft.
Police shut off the gas service to the apartment building to prevent the murderer from possibly causing an explosion that would destroy property, harm police and civilians. At nightfall, they shut off electric service to the block further blinding Merah in his apartment. Before that, police attempted to burst through the front door but were met with gunfire that wounded two S.W.A.T. members; their condition is reported as stable at this writing. Early on, one was reported critical and thought dead, but this has turned out not to be the case.
This is the sleep deprivation stage of hostile engagements in civilian confines, during which the perpetrators generally begin to forsake themselves ever so slowly permitting police ample opportunity to act. Merah proved to be better trained in these matters. At about 1AM police detonated at least two stun grenades in Merah’s apartment after they had used explosives to blow out the door and part of the wall. Occasional single gunfire was used over the next several hours, for at least to keep the Terrorist somewhat confused if not awake should that have been possible.
Police apparently used robots to inspect and investigate the apartment from some safe distance. Perhaps this will demonstrate the benefits of this type of equipment, all a direct result of U.S. military Research and Development, now rather common and export throughout the world.
At about 10:30AM, police entered the apartment having established that Merah had holed up in his bathroom. Perhaps after ignoring or defying further, police demands, Merah opened fire and burst through the door. It was then that he was seen to be wearing a bullet-proof vest; also prohibited in Europe, guns blaring from both hands. He dashed about his apartment shooting everywhere. Police returned fire, surprised by the protective vest and continued shooting until Merah leaped through a window and fell to the ground below.
It is not clear if the bullet in the head was that of one of the police in the room or that of a sniper across the street, but the terrorist was dead long before his body hit the ground; it is reported with a gun still in his hand. Merah had declared that he would surrender last evening, but recanted that statement and vowed a preference to die fighting and killing. He added that it was his only regret that he had not killed more people.
The inspection of his apartment revealed videos of all his conquests and recent murders of French soldiers and Jewish children. The children were a target of opportunity, Merah unsuccessful in meeting with yet another soldier as planned that day. He had contacted all his victims on some pretense or other; they were apparently fully surprised by his jihadist shout as he pointed his weapons and pulled the triggers. The videos may have been uploaded somewhere and are surely to appear someplace, sometime for the obvious benefit of encouraging others to do the same as good students of Islam.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consoled the families of the murdered children.
French government ministers applauded French President Sarkozy’s statement at the French services for having been all-inclusive of the loss of human life at the hands of the murderer since one of the French soldiers had a muslim-sounding name. All French spokespersons except the one at the scene were all too conciliatory as this to be a French Tragedy, rather than an Al Qaeda Terrorist exacting their influence upon a nation in opposition to Islam, regardless of size or strength.
It should not go without notice that at the onset of the siege, reports in the west were fed the malarkey that the un-named suspect was a Neo-Nazi as opposed to an Islamic Terrorist. I suppose it is not much of a stretch to include Al Qaeda, Taliban and other radical Islamists into a Neo-Nazi group, but that would be inaccurate since all of them are just plain Nazi as the name may imply from our experience with the teachings of Hitler, Mao, Stalin and Lenin, their synopsis of the teachings of Karl Marx.
The simple truth is that Merah was a Radical Islamist trained by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. However he got there pales in comparison to the drive and interest he practiced all the while to get there and return by any means. The fact that he murdered people in cold blood is irrefutable. The fact that one of them may be a muslim is not to be ignored. In fact, it is likely that the one French soldier with an Arabic-sounding name will be lionized as a muslim in order to prove to the French people that Merah was a common criminal and not an Islamic Terrorist.
Pay thee attention then, citizens of France. If the French soldier with an Arabic name was a Muslim, then Al Qaeda justifies his death as a sinner in need of salvation. Ultimately, all Merah’s victims fit the Al Qaeda bill; they were all infidels and that is enough for all of them.
Not quite the footnote intended, but it has been confirmed that Merah leaped through his FIRST STORY window, hoping to escape certain death, right into the waiting arms of certain death. Rather explains how he managed to hold on to the handgun after all