Thu Mar 22, 2012, 12:31 AM
alp227 (29,047 posts)
Suspect in France Shootings Seen as Homegrown Militant
Last edited Thu Mar 22, 2012, 01:25 AM - Edit history (1)
For European law enforcement officials, Mohammed Merah, the 23-year-old suspect in the killing of seven people in southwestern France, represents the kind of insidious terrorist threat that they fear most: a homegrown militant consumed by visceral grievances who identifies with Al Qaeda but operates on his own.
“He appears to be part of the new generation of Islamic terrorists who act alone, abetted by jihadi Web sites and their own anger,” said Jean-Louis Bruguière, a former French counterterrorism judge and expert on European terrorism.
On Wednesday, as a stunned nation grappled with its deadliest terrorist attack since 1995, a portrait emerged of a disturbed and volatile man who was known to domestic intelligence, having been put on a watch list several years ago. Mr. Merah remained in his apartment block in Toulouse, surrounded by hundreds of police officers.
He operated on the fringes of French society, a soft-spoken and alienated youth who railed about the plight of the Palestinians and engaged in petty crimes such as purse snatching.
One of five children from a family in Toulouse, Mr. Merah was a mechanic who was rejected from the army twice, according to the news reports here in France. He was known by police officers for committing crimes on a regular basis, and had nearly a dozen criminal convictions on his record, according to the Interior Ministry. He had recently been sentenced to a month in jail for driving without a license.
Not so different from the Norweigan Anders Breivik, who went on a killing spree based on white nationalist/radical Christian ideology. Among his influences was Robert Spencer, a sharp-tongued American critic of Islam who probably is typing a screed against Merah and the "Islamization of Europe" as we read this.
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