French official: no evidence of al Qaeda links to Toulouse shooter
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the LieUnsurprisingly, as the days go by the case of Mohamed Merah, the individual who allegedly committed the horrific shooting in Toulouse, France, just continues to get more confusing and contradictory.
Richard Cottrell has aptly shown how it displays all of the classic hallmarks of an intelligence operation, in this case Gladio, and I have reported on how French President Nicolas Sarkozy is already leveraging the tragedy for his own political benefit.
Now it has emerged that there is no evidence showing that Merah had links to al Qaeda or any other terrorist groups.
According to the Irish Times, an anonymous official close to the investigation said that there is no indication that Merah had “trained or been in contact with organized groups or jihadists.”
Of course, this is completely different from the narrative we have been sold by the Western media, and this revelation will likely weaken support for Sarkozy’s reactionary internet censorship.
Merah, the 23-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin, had previously travelled to both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and prosecutors claimed that he was in contact with al Qaeda.
However, it has also been reported that Merah travelled to Israel, Syria Iraq and Jordan. JTA reports “It is believed that he tried to visit the West Bank,” although they do not cite any justification for this belief.
Merah was reportedly killed after a 32-hour-long standoff with police at his Toulouse apartment and it has been reported that French intelligence agencies had Merah on their radar.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has publicly rejected the notion that French anti-terrorism agencies were at all at fault for failing to prevent the attack.
He “rejected suggestions that anti-terrorism authorities fell down on the job in monitoring Merah,” according to the Irish Times.
However, it is being reported that the French intelligence community was aware of Merah’s jaunts to Afghanistan and Pakistan, along with his visit to the Pakistani region of Waziristan.
He was also on the United States’ no-fly list since 2010, yet apparently none of this registered with the French authorities.
In my opinion, the French intelligence community is either laughably incompetent to the point of absurdity, or more likely, they allowed the attack to happen in order to strengthen Sarkozy’s chances in the upcoming election and give support for crackdowns on various freedoms.
This is very similar to the incidents of manufactured terrorism in the United States, like the farcical underwear bomber case, which was exploited to roll out the so-called “naked body scanners” and justify ludicrous new guidelines for the National Counterterrorism Center.
Recently, a former informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed, “The way the FBI conducts their operations, It is all about entrapment … I know the game, I know the dynamics of it. It’s such a joke, a real joke. There is no real hunt. It’s fixed.”
Currently, French investigators are reportedly questioning Merah’s brother and continuing their search for possible accomplices in the attack.
Fillon said that the Sarkozy government is already in the process of working on new anti-terrorism legislation, which is expected to be drafted in around two weeks.
Clearly, Sarkozy and his cronies have no problem utilizing the death of these innocent people to justify increasingly draconian legislation and crackdowns on internet freedom and privacy.
People across France, including some politicians, sectors of the French media, and residents of Toulouse, have all been wondering why the French authorities did not stop Merah before the first shooting on March 11.
Indeed, even Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said that “clarity” was needed on why he was not arrested much earlier.
Although if the anonymous official is correct, it is likely because there is no actual evidence linking Merah to al Qaeda, since visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan is far from a crime and it does not imply any link to al Qaeda or any terrorists, for that matter.
Fillon claims that they never suspected that Merah could be dangerous, even though he has a relatively long criminal record.
“The fact of belonging to a Salafist (ultraconservative Muslim) organization is not unto itself a crime. We must not mix religious fundamentalism and terrorism, even if naturally we well know the links that unite the two,” Fillon said.
This is ironic given France’s outright war on Islam across the board, not just fundamentalist Islam, embodied by their anti-burqa legislation.
Merah allegedly told French negotiators that he carried out the killings to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children as well as to protest the burqa ban and the French role in Afghanistan.
The incident has already sparked the right wing sentiment Richard Cottrell rightly predicted as an outcome of the tragedy.
For instance, 43-year-old Cathy Fontaine who operates a beauty salon just down the road from where Merah was killed, said that France should adopt a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to individuals who seek out training in Afghanistan.
“An individual who goes to be trained in Afghanistan, you have to follow him,” Fontaine said, while also raising the prospect of refusing to let them back into France.
Of course, this leaves out the critical aspect of actually proving that an individual is going to one of these countries for training and not for a plethora of other wholly innocuous reasons.
Something tells me individuals like Fontaine wouldn’t have a problem with banning re-entry of people who visit these countries across the board, or perhaps have them followed, which would eat up ludicrous amounts of resources while violating the rights of the targeted individual.
Never mind the fact that it would take absurd numbers of intelligence agents to follow around every person who happened to visit a country anywhere in the Middle East to make sure that they are not undergoing training.
The families of some of the victims have expressed frustration over the fact that he was not taken alive by police.
“Imad’s parents feel that the justice they were expecting was stolen from them,” said Mehana Mouhou, the lawyer for the family of the first paratrooper Merah allegedly killed, Imad Ibn-Ziaten.
“His mother wanted an answer to the question, ‘why did he kill my son?” Mouhou added.
Mouhou also wondered why exactly the hours of negotiation between Merah and police failed and resulted in his death, especially since Merah promised to surrender multiple times, according to reports.
“They could have very well not killed him. There were no hostages. The neighbors were evacuated,” Mouhou said.
This is just yet another indicator that this was not as simple as we are led to believe and he was killed, instead of captured alive and questioned, because he might have said something that would have upset the official story in one way or another.
If he was an al Qaeda-linked militant as the Western media would like us to believe, why would they not do their absolute best to capture him alive and leverage his knowledge of the organization he was supposedly associated with?
Speaking to the French paper Le Monde, the chief of the French RAID unit, Amaury de Hauteclocque, which carried out the operation said that Merah was likely killed by a sniper.
He said that Merah had been waiting “like a fighter, with an unflagging determination,” although that does little to explain why he would ever even entertain the notion of surrender.
“We tried to exhaust him all night before retaking the apartment,” he added.
According to reports, when commandos entered the apartment, Merah was waiting for them, standing in some 30 centimeters of water which had pooled after a pipe burst after being hit by a bullet during the first attack.
“I’d given the order to only fire back with stun grenades. But as he moved through the apartment he tried to kill my men who were on the balcony. It’s probably one of the snipers that got him,” de Hauteclocque claimed.
He added that 15 individuals took part in the actual assault while around 60 people participated in the entire operation.
Many questions remain unresolved in this case, and we will continue to keep you abreast of the information as it emerges.
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