|France Detains Suspect In Toulouse Killings Investigation|
|[Ynet] French anti-terror judges ordered the detention on Saturday of a man on suspicions he aided al-Qaeda-inspired Mohamed Merah prepare for a shooting spree that claimed the lives of four Jews and three soldiers in and around the southern city of last year, a judicial source said.|
Anti-terror judges have put the unnamed 25-year-old man under formal investigation to determine whether he helped Merah steal a scooter that was used in the shootings.
|Taqiya, or the terrorist ‘art of deception'|
|A year after the Toulouse attacks by Mohamed Merah (pictured), French counterterrorism experts are monitoring the practice of "taqiya" - or deceiving society by concealing one’s faith – and its uses in jihadist circles.|
Nearly a year ago, as one of France’s longest-ever police sieges was about to end on the morning of March 22, 2012, Mohamed Merah – also known as “the Toulouse gunman” – uttered a cry that seemed enigmatic to the uninformed, but was weighted with meaning for counterterrorism experts.
“It’s not the money, it’s the deception that’s critical,” said the 23-year-old French-Algerian shortly before he jumped off his Toulouse apartment window and was gunned down by an elite French anti-terror unit.
The somewhat cryptic cry was a likely reference to “taqiya” – a form of religious dissimulation or legal dispensation in which believers deny their faith or even commit blasphemous acts as a deception if they are seriously threatened or at risk of persecution.
"Concealment is a technique as old as the world," explained French anti-terrorism judge Marc Trévidic in an interview with FRANCE 24. “It’s also an essential component of any war strategy, regardless of the people involved.”
In Islam, taqiya dates back to the time when Shiite Muslims were hounded and persecuted by the Sunni caliphs following the 7th century schism between the followers of the Prophet’s son-in-law, Ali, and the Sunni caliphate.
For the traditionally persecuted Shiite minority, deception – or taqiya – was considered a matter of survival. Although the term does not exist in Sunni jurisprudence, there have been rare cases of Sunnis practicing taqiya in extraordinary circumstances.
But it was not until the term was recovered by Sunni jihadists trained in the Afghan terror camps that it began to get the attention of counterterrorism experts as trained and radicalised young men began practising taqiya as a means of integrating and disguising themselves in Western societies
“Taqiya, as it’s understood today, is actually a radicalized version of concealment, in the sense that some religious extremists have found 'dalils' (or 'evidence') in the Koran that would justify their actions,” said Trévidic.
From Afghanistan to Europe and Canada
|Spain Arrests Suspected Islamist for Plotting Attacks|
|[An Nahar] Spanish police arrested a suspected Islamist for plotting terrorist attacks in Spain and elsewhere in Europe, authorities said Friday.|
They arrested Mohamed Echaabi, a 22-year-old Moroccan, on Thursday in the eastern city of Valencia.
A police statement said he had "the same profile" as Mohamed Merah, a French Algerian who shot dead seven people last year, including three children in a Jewish school in Toulouse.
Echaabi had traveled to Gaza in 2011 and had also tried to buy guns and explosives, police said.
"Police consider Echaabi a lone wolf, recruited by terrorist networks and self-radicalized via the Internet," much like the 23-year-old Merah, the statement said.
"Police surveillance and the activities he carried out revealed his intention to commit terrorist acts against certain people and other targets, in accordance with the doctrine of global jihad, in Spain and other European countries."
Police made no material link between Echaabi and Merah, who was shot dead by police in a siege at his home last March.
Spanish authorities last year said Merah had been to Spain in 2007. Media reported that he took part in events at Mosques in the northeastern region of Catalonia.
|Minister Says 'Probably Dozens' More Like Merah in France|
|[An Nahar] A man Mohamed Merah has been released without charge, a judicial source said on Friday. this week in connection with the March attacks by gunman |
The 38-year-old man was on Tuesday along with his ex-girlfriend, also 38, who was released earlier.
The man, described by police as a member of the traveler community who converted to Islam, was detained on suspicion of having provided aid to Merah in carrying out the March attacks that left seven people dead.
The nature of his potential involvement was unclear at the time of his arrest, but have been searching for a suspected "third man" believed to have been with Merah and his brother Abdelkader during the theft of a scooter used in the attacks.
Merah, a self-described al-Qaeda sympathizer, shot a rabbi, three Jewish schoolchildren and three French paratroopers before being in a police siege in French authorities have stepped up efforts to fight homegrown since the attacks, including with a series of arrests of alleged Islamist s.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls has warned that there are "probably dozens" more potential like Merah in .
"The threat exists abroad but there is also a threat from inside," Valls told 2 television this week.
|BREAKING: Police Arrest 2 Suspected Accomplices Of Gunman Merah|
|[Jpost] French police on Tuesday arrested two suspected accomplices of gunman Mohamed Merah, who shot dead seven people in an attack outside a Jewish school in Toulouse in March, AFP reported.|
Police arrested one man, who they described as a member of the traveler community, in the town of Albi, and the other in Toulouse, according to AFP.
Police suspect the pair aided Merah in carrying out the attack, AFP reported.
|French Police Admit Botched Investigation of Toulouse Gunman|
|[An Nahar] French police Tuesday unveiled a damning report that showed up several loopholes in the investigation of al-Qaeda-inspired gunman Mohamed Merah before his shooting spree in The 17-page report by the police disciplinary unit IGPN said "several objective failures had come to light," including a "delayed coordinated reaction," as Interior Minister Manuel Valls vowed to "rapidly put into place the necessary adjustments."|
Various units of the French police and intelligence bodies were working in a compartmentalized manner, the report said, slamming the French intelligence agency DCRI, which reports directly to the interior ministry, for "identifying the change in Merah's profile very late."
Merah, a self-described al-Qaeda sympathizer, shot a rabbi, three Jewish schoolchildren and three French paratroopers in attacks in and around the southern city of Toulouse in March before being in a police siege.
The report said Merah, who has had at least 15 previous criminal convictions, attacked a neighbor in June 2010 who confronted him for showing her son a video depicting decapitation.
The lack of coordination resulted in the DCRI being unaware of this development, which could have led to increased surveillance on Merah, who turned into an Islamist hardliner in prison in February 2008, it said.
Merah's transformation to a radical only became apparent to the agency two years later.
And Merah's departure to Pakistain in August last year also went unnoticed because he transited through Oman, which is not part of the 31 destinations where outbound travel is monitored by French intelligence.
It called for tighter surveillance and better coordination between the various security agencies, including fiscal policing. Merah had a rented apartment in Toulouse despite having no declared income.
Separate reports from the DCRI show that Merah was under intense surveillance throughout 2011 but that agents decided to reduce monitoring.
They show that Merah, who had been under surveillance since 2006, was identified as a "privileged target" at the beginning of last year after returning from a trip to Afghanistan, where he was in November 2010.
Surveillance from March to July indicated he was in regular contact with "the radical Islamist movement in Toulouse", was showing "paranoid behavior" and was receiving funds from s.
Merah traveled to Pakistain between August and October last year and met with DCRI agents upon his return.
President has vowed to beef up its anti-terrorism laws following the killings.
Plans presented to cabinet earlier this month would allow authorities to prosecute suspects for terrorism-related crimes committed outside the country, allowing to target who attend foreign training camps.
|Poll: Most French Think Islam Too Influential In Society|
|[Jerusalem Post] An increasing majority of people in believe Islam plays too influential a role in their society and almost half see s as a threat to their national identity, according to a poll published on Thursday.|
It found that 43 percent of respondents considered the presence of the community as a threat to their national identity, compared with just 17 percent who said it enriched society. Forty percent of those questioned were indifferent to the presence of Islam, Le Figaro said.
"Our poll shows a further hardening in French people's opinions," Jerome Fourquet, head of Ifop's opinion department, told the newspaper.
The struggle of secular , whose people are mainly Catholic, to assimilate the largest Islamic population in Europe was thrust into the spotlight in March when Mohamed Merah, went on a shooting spree in southwest that killed three Jewish children, a rabbi and three soldiers.
|So Funny, Those French: French Jews Report Fresh Hate Tweets|
|[Ynet] 's Union of Jewish Students, which last week forced Twitter to remove anti-Semitic posts under threat of legal action, says 50 new messages sighted over weekend using new keyword #unjuifmort (#adeadjew).|
A Twitter refused to comment directly on the anti-Semitic tweets and reiterated the company's standard response that it "does not mediate content."
He added, "If we are alerted to content that may be in violation of our terms of service, we will investigate each report and respond according to the policies and procedures outlined in our support pages."
These state that Twitter cannot delete tweets but allow for accounts generating content in breach of its rules or considered illegal to be suspended.
The site will not hand over details of account holders unless obliged to do so by a judge.
Last week, Twitter suspended the account of a neo-Nazi group in Germany, responding to a request of that nature from a national government for the first time.
French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has warned Twitter that it has a duty to uphold the country's laws on racism and anti-Semitism.
The row over the tweets has blown up against a background of increasing attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in .
A community watchdog said two weeks ago that anti-Semitic acts had surged by 45% since the start of the year and were given fresh impetus by attacks by Islamic Mohamed Merah.
|Belgian al Qaeda recruiter killed in Pakistan: report|
|[Dawn] A Belgian-Tunisian al Qaeda recruiter who allegedly mentored an who seven people in this year has been killed in Pakistain, according to the US monitoring service SITE.|
SITE said a post on an web forum on Monday announced the death of Moez Garsalloui, who had for one of the attacks carried out by Mohamed Merah in the southern French city of in March.
Garsalloui was a jihadist recruiter and propagandist formerly based in Belgium and , SITE said, who remained focused on signing up to attack targets in Europe even after moving to the battlefields and training camps of Pakistain and Afghanistan.
The post announcing Garsalloui's death said he was killed in a "raid", SITE said without elaborating, having previously escaped bombings in , the main town in the North district of Pakistain's lawless tribal areas.
No details of the raid were given but the jihadi website announcement appeared a few days after two US drone strikes in North Waziristan killed 23 people, according to Pak security sources.
The death notice named Garsalloui as the leader of "Jund al-Khilafah", or Army of the Caliph, a unit that for Merah's attack outside a Jewish school on March 19.
A forum post from one of Garsalloui's accounts in April described meeting Merah in Pakistain and mentoring him, SITE said, helping him as he struggled to make himself understood to other fighters in Arabic.
Garasalloui and his wife, Belgian-Moroccan Malika el Aroud, were convicted by a Swiss court in June 2007 for running websites that supported terrorism.
He was for three weeks and then moved to Belgium, where he and his wife were accused of recruiting jihadists to fight in Afghanistan.
He left Europe in late 2007 and was later identified as a link between al Qaeda leaders and a Belgian network that was disrupted by raids in December 2008, accused of planning an imminent attack.
|France Hits Foreign-Trained Extremists|
|[AFP] on Wednesday presented plans for a new anti-terrorism law that will allow authorities to prosecute citizens who attend Islamist training camps abroad.|
The move comes six months after Mohamed Merah, a French citizen who claimed to have attended Al-Qaeda-style training camps in Pakistain and Afghanistan, killed seven people in a wave of shootings in and around The plans were presented to cabinet on Wednesday and President hopes parliament will adopt them by the end of the year, government spokesperson Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said.
"The terrorist threat remains at a very high level in ," she said.
The reforms will allow authorities to detect "the spread of radicalism or jihadism on the internet and to identify people returning to after training or participating in terrorist actions" abroad.
The bill would amend 's criminal code to make terrorism-related crimes committed outside punishable in the country.
Those attending training camps abroad could face up to 10 years in prison for "association with a terrorist enterprise".
The changes would also allow authorities to monitor the telecommunications data of the creators of websites.
French authorities have been criticised for failing to prevent Merah's attacks despite his links with foreign Islamists, which were known to intelligence services.
Merah three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers before being killed himself on 22 March following a 32-hour police siege of his flat in the southern city of Toulouse.
|French man held over Mohammad cartoon revenge plan|
|[Al Ahram] Police a young man in southern on Thursday on suspicion that he was planning a attack on the staff of a satirical magazine which published cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammad.|
Anti-terrorism magistrates near the Mediterranean port city of Toulon questioned the 18-year-old after he threatened in a message on Facebook to cut the throats of anyone he could find at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a judicial source said.
The magazine's publication of cartoons ridiculing Mohammad added to the anger of s already outraged over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States and posted on the Internet.
The suspect had no police record but he was already known to security services, the source said, without giving further details.
Police in are on high alert for attacks by Islamist s. They were criticised for failing to stop an al Qaeda-inspired gunman shooting dead seven people in March, including three Jewish children, in the southern city of The shooter, Mohamed Merah, had been interviewed by police after returning from a visit to Afghanistan and had a violent criminal record.
The government, which has criticised the cartoons, plans to shut schools and diplomatic offices in 20 countries on Friday as a precaution against protests after attacks on U.S. and German embassies, some of them deadly.
Police have refused a request to hold a protest against the film in , after some 150 participants in an illegal demonstration near the U.S embassy were on Sunday. has Europe's largest population of s.
"People in the suburbs are very upset over the publication of these cartoons," said Mohamed Mechmache, head of the ACLEFEU association for urban youths, created in the wake of riots that swept French suburbs in 2005.
"They feel there is a double standard when it comes to free speech: it's okay to mock the Prophet, but we can't protest against it ... All it would take for things to spiral out of control is a police check that goes wrong."
In another incident which might exacerbate strains, an 18-year-old young French woman was sentenced to two months in jail for refusing to comply with a police identity check while she was wearing a banned full-face veil in public.
The woman resisted police when they asked to check her identity in front of a mosque in central Marseille in July, during the holy fasting period of Ramadan.
Under a French law from 2010, a person wearing a "burqa" or "niqab" style full-face veil can be stopped by police. If she refuses to remove her veil, she can be fined or sentenced to community service. Repeat offenders face jail.
In addition to being and receiving a six-month suspended prison sentence, the veiled woman was ordered to pay damages of 1,000 euros ($1,300) to a female police officer whom she bit during the altercation.
Two young men who were accompanying the woman were also sentenced to two months' jail for fighting with police when they tried to carry out the identity check.
|French Media: Toulouse Terrorist Really Wasn't A Lone Wolf|
|[Jerusalem Post] Merah made some 2,000 phone calls in 2010-2011, to countries in North Africa and the Middle East, new information shows.|
Last March, Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old French-Algerian, killed three soldiers and four Jews (a rabbi, his two children and another girl) in three attacks in He also five people.
He was killed after a siege of his apartment by the French National Police's RAID elite anti-terrorist unit, after an investigation by the DCRI, the country's counter-espionage and counter-terrorism intelligence agency.
According to the new information, Merah made some 2,000 phone calls during a period of several months in 2010-2011, to countries in North Africa and the Middle East.
According to a secret DCRI document dating from that period, Merah normally had no cellphone, and when he had one, it was monitored by the security services. So he used, for his "professional" purposes, cellphones belonging to relatives, including his mother. All the calls were to such countries as Algeria, Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq.
A few weeks ago, French media reported that Merah had been under surveillance and identified as "of interest" by the French security services since at least 2009. He was a "privileged target" of the DCRI for his relationships with radical Islamists in Toulouse, which included his brother Abdelkader.
The DCRI documents classified as "secret-defense" were declassified and made public on August 3 by the Interior Ministry and then forwarded to the Justice Ministry. The daily newspaper Le ien published the essential information drawn from their 23 pages.
The report said: "The young jihadi could come back [from his frequent and long trips to the Middle East and Afghanistan where he was trained by al-Qaeda] and be instructed to commit armed attacks."
One document qualified Merah as "an individual with a heavy past of delinquency going toward radicalization" and as "a direct menace."
"Damming and disturbing" were the newspaper's words to describe the declassified documents, enough to put into question "the lone wolf theory" put forward at the time of the attacks by Bernard Squarcini, then boss of the DCRI.
"Why then wasn't he before committing his series of crimes," one of the victims' lawyers asked 2 television.