|Suspected Merah Accomplices Arrested In Toulouse|
|[IsraelTmes] Two men on suspicion of involvement in March 2012 murderous attack on Jewish schoolMay|
Two men suspected of being accomplices of Islamist terrorist Mohammed Merah were Tuesday near Investigators believe the men helped plan a series of deadly attacks in March 2012. One of the suspects was released on Wednesday; the second remained on Thursday.
Merah, a 23-year-old radical , killed a rabbi and three children in an attack on the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school, now called Ohr Hatorah, on March 19, 2012. The slayings came a few days after Merah three French soldiers in two drive-by shootings from a scooter near Toulouse. He was on March 22 during a standoff with police.
French police have arrested and released several people and questioned dozens in connection with the shootings.
|‘Clampdown on Islam in Europe drives young Muslims to Syrian war’|
|Backslash on multiculturalism in Europe and easy access to global jihad info on the web prompts young Muslims from France and other EU states to join the Syrian rebels, Jean-Yves Camus, a specialist on extremism, told RT.|
The EU's anti-terror chief, Gilles de Kerchove, is sounding the alarm over the number of young Europeans going off to the Syrian war.
Hundreds of volunteers are already fighting alongside rebels and could pose a serious security threat when they return home, according to the official.
Specialist in extremism at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations, Jean-Yves Camus, shares those concerns, adding that the rise of radicalism in Europe can be also explained by the many conflicts in the Muslim world the West had a hand in.
RT: The French government has been one of the strongest supporters of the Syrian rebels and even wants to arm them directly. Is Paris not worried about the threat of homegrown terror?
Jean-Yves Camus: Paris is, of course, aware of the trend towards home grown terror and we had the Mohammed Merah shooting last year, which fairly proved that this wasn’t something unrealistic that a young radicalized Muslim may go out onto the street and shoot youngster in a Jewish school. On the other hand, the French government is also aware that the youngsters from the Muslim community are going to Syria as they used to go to Iraq or other places of the global jihad, in order to train alongside the Al-Qaeda fighters and other militant Muslim movements. So, they are aware of that and already our security services have arrested several of them – either before they travelled to Syria or even on the return.
|Pakistan expels Frenchmen over militant links|
|[Dawn] Pakistain has deported three who have been held in secret since they entered the country illegally 10 months ago to fight troops in neighbouring Afghanistan, officials said Thursday.|
Investigators are expected to question the men in , where the case is likely to draw parallels with Mohammed Merah, the 23-year-old who seven people in southwest in March 2012 after returning from Pakistain.
Investigators said Pak police the trio on May 28 last year after they entered the country illegally from Iran.
They were along with Naamen Meziche, another of North African extraction previously known to Western security services as member of Al Qaeda. "They said they came to Pakistain to deepen their knowledge of Islam and to fight in Afghanistan," one investigator told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Meziche's arrest was announced last June but French and Pak officials had kept quiet about the other three. At the time, Pak officials said Meziche was probably heading to Somalia.
But Western experts said he had been en route to Pakistain's semi-autonomous tribal belt on the Afghan border, said to be an Al Qaeda and Taliban stronghold.
Investigators believe Meziche could have been taking the other three to the tribal belt close to the Pak-Afghan border.
Officials say the three men left in January 2012, telling their families in Orleans south of that they were going on pilgrimage to Mecca in . But five months later they were detained in Pakistain.
On Thursday a French diplomatic source confirmed that the last of the three suspects was now back on French soil, after being deported over the last 48 hours.
Their precise link to Meziche, who will also be deported, remains unclear. It also remains unclear whether they will face trial. A new law banning French citizens from going abroad for training came into force last December, only after their arrest.
|Two Arrested On Suspicion Of Aiding Toulouse Terrorist|
|[Times of Israel] French police Mohammed Merah in two killing sprees in the area last year, including at a Jewish school. two men on suspicion that they helped |
The two were arrested separately on Tuesday in Toulouse, according to Le Monde.
Merah, a 23-year-old radical , killed a rabbi and three children in an attack on the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school, now Ohr Hatorah, on March 19. The slayings came a few days after Merah three French soldiers in two drive-by shootings from a scooter near Toulouse. He was on March 22 during a standoff with police.
French police have arrested and released several people and questioned dozens in connection with the shootings.
The only person besides the two men who were arrested Tuesday is Merah's brother, Abdelkader, who has denied having anything to do with the shootings. Police believe he was with his brother when they stole a scooter that Mohammed Merah used to escape after the shootings.
|French police arrest two connection to Toulouse killings|
|[Times of Israel] French police on Tuesday announced that they had Mohammed Merah, a French-Algerian Islamist, killed a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school, several days after gunning down four French paratroopers in two separate attacks. a man and a woman in connection with the shootings in March, in which |
The man arrested Tuesday was picked up in the city of Albi in southern , and the woman -- his ex-girlfriend -- was arrested in Toulouse, the prosecutor's office said. It released no other details. The two are suspected of providing Merah with logistical support and assistance in carrying out the attacks.
The Sipa news agency said the man is suspected of helping Merah obtain the scooter used in the attacks.
Merah was killed following a dramatic manhunt and a 30-hour standoff with police three days after the attack on the Jewish school.
|Antisemitic acts up 45% from year ago in France|
|[Jerusalem Post] Unidentified assailants near Paris wounded a Jewish woman in her succa, one of three serious incidents in the last week and indicative of a reported 45 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in France in the first half of this year.|
The attack was one of three incidents reported by the security unit of France's Jewish communities since Oct. 5. In a second incident, a Jewish man was lightly wounded by a metal ball that was fired at him as he was coming out of his Paris synagogue. The third involved the desecration of a Jewish cemetery near Marseille.
The SPCJ has counted 386 of what it calls "anti-Semitic acts" from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31 this year, the organization said in a report on Wednesday. In the corresponding period of 2011, SPCJ counted 266 such incidents. SPCJ said these figures correlated to official data by French authorities.
Of the incidents registered in the first eight months of 2012, 101 were "violent actions," SPCJ said, including the slaying of four people at a school in Toulouse on March 19 by Mohammed Merah, a Muslim extremist. That attack triggered "an explosion" of anti-Semitic attacks, SPCJ said. Most other incidents documented were cases of intimidation, the report said..
|Families of Toulouse victims seek gag order on leaked recordings|
|(JTA) -- Relatives of the victims of Mohammed Merah will seek to prevent the media from broadcasting recordings of the late French gunman. killer |
Attorneys for the bereaved relatives said Monday that they are seeking a gag order on the recordings after negotiations between Merah and French police were aired by the French television channel TF1. Merah murdered three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse on March 19.
The conversations took place as police lay siege to Merah's home in Toulouse. He was killed in a shootout on March 23.
"You are facing a man who does not fear death," a masculine voice believed to belong to Merah is heard saying in the recordings, which were aired June 8. "I love death as much as you love life."
Samia Maktouf, an attorney for one of the families, said that "The victims of this attack are outraged." The families' main concern is that Merah's words will inspire copycats.
"Next, videos of Merah will be disseminated," Maktouf said. "This will cause irrevocable damage."
Merah made a video recording of his attack on the Otzar Hatorah school. The Qatar-based network obtained the footage but decided not to air it.
French police are investigating how TF1 obtained the recordings, which may have been leaked by the police.
The umbrella organization of French Jewish communities, CRIF, expressed its "shock and outrage" at the airing of the recordings. The Council for Audiovisual Communication, a French professional union, advised other media not to air them.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls condemned the decision to run extracts of the negotiations. He also said Monday that he is concerned about a "new breed of anti-Semitism" in . His comments came the day after the two suspects in the July 5 attack on a Jewish teenager traveling on a train between Toulouse and Lyon were by police.
"There is anti-Semitism that exists in our neighbourhoods, in our suburbs," said Valls, according to the European Jewish Press and the French news agency AFP. "There are in our neighborhoods youths or younger persons who in the name of a collective identity they feel is under attack decide on the most ignorant course, the most dangerous to our values, to perpetuate attacks on Jews. They consider Jews to be the enemy."
The 17-year-old victim of the train attack reportedly is a student at the Ozar Hatorah school. The teen, who reportedly was wearing a kippah and tzitzit, was accosted verbally before he was beaten by two assailants.
"Today, [people] don't think twice about insulting or hitting a fellow citizen because he is identifiably Jewish in his appearance," Valls added in an interview with a Jewish radio station.
According to the French Jewish Protection Service, there were more than 90 anti-Semitic incidents in in the 10 days following the school shooting.
|Documents reveal al Qaeda's plans for seizing cruise ships, carnage in Europe|
|(CNN) -- On May 16 last year, a 22-year-old Austrian named Maqsood Lodin |
I'm not sure why, but that name doesn't sound Austrian.
was being questioned by police in Berlin. He had recently returned from Pakistain
...that's our partner in the WoT in South Asia...
via Budapest, Hungary, and then traveled overland to Germany. His interrogators were surprised to find that hidden in his underpants were a digital storage device and memory cards.
That's the place to put 'em if you don't want to call attention to them, you betcha...
Buried inside them was a pornographic video called "Kick Ass" -- and a file marked "Sexy Tanja."
Several weeks later, after laborious efforts to crack a password and software to make the file almost invisible, German discovered encoded inside the actual video a treasure trove of intelligence -- more than 100 al Qaeda documents that included an inside track on some of the terror group's most audacious plots and a road map for future operations.
Future plots include the idea of seizing cruise ships and carrying out attacks in Europe similar to the gun attacks by Pak that paralyzed the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008. Ten killed 164 people in that three-day rampage.
Terrorist training manuals in PDF format in German, English and Arabic were among the documents, too, according to intelligence sources.
U.S. intelligence sources tell CNN that the documents uncovered are "pure gold;" one source says that they are the most important haul of al Qaeda materials in the last year, besides those found when U.S. Navy SEALs raided compound in , Pakistain, a year ago and killed the al Qaeda leader.
One document was called "Future Works." Its authorship is unclear, but intelligence officials believe it came from al Qaeda's inner core. It may have been the work of Younis al Mauretani, a senior al Qaeda operative until his capture by Pak police in 2011.
The document appears to have been the product of discussions to find new targets and methods of attack. German believe it was written in 2009 -- and that it remains the template for al Qaeda's plans.
Investigative journalist Yassin Musharbash, a with the German newspaper Die Zeit, was the first to report on the documents. One plan: to seize passenger ships. According to Musharbash, the writer "says that we could hijack a passenger ship and use it to pressurize the public."
Musharbash takes that to mean that the "would then start executing passengers on those ships and demand the release of particular prisoners."
The plan would include dressing passengers in orange jump suits, as if they were al Qaeda prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and then videotaping their execution.
Lodin and a man called Yusuf Ocak, who allegedly traveled back to Europe with him, are now on trial in Berlin where they are pleading not guilty. Ocak was in Vienna two weeks after Lodin's arrest.
According to a senior Western counterterrorism official, their names were on a watch list, and when they handed over documents at a European border crossing, their names registered with counterterrorism agencies.
Both men have to terrorism charges. Ocak is also charged with helping to form a group called the German Taliban Mujahedeen, and is alleged to have made a video for the group threatening attacks in Germany.
Prosecutors believe the pair met at a terrorist training camp in Pakistain's tribal territories and were sent back to Europe to recruit a network of s.
"We do not know what those men were up to but there are certain files of information that would make it plausible that they were probably thinking of a Mumbai-style attack," says Musharbash.
In the fall of 2010, a year after the document was written, European intelligence agencies were scrambling to investigate a Mumbai-style plot involving German and other European -- which sparked an unprecedented U.S. State Department travel warning for Americans in Europe.
"I think it is plausible to think that the 'Future Works' document is part of that particular project," says Musharbash.
"Future Works" suggests al Qaeda was an organization under great pressure, without a major attack to its name in several years, harried by Western intelligence. If anything, its predicament is even more dire today.
"The document delivers very clearly the notion that al Qaeda knows it is being followed very closely," Musharbash tells CNN. "It specifically says that Western intelligence agencies have become very good at spoiling attacks, that they have to come up with new ways and better plotting."
Part of the response, according to the document, should be to train European jihadists quickly and send them home -- rather than use them as fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistain -- with instructions on how to keep in secret contact with their handlers.
What emerges from the document is a twin-track strategy -- with the author apparently convinced that al Qaeda needs low-cost, low-tech attacks (perhaps such as the recent gun attacks in carried out by Mohammed Merah) to keep security services preoccupied while it plans large-scale attacks on a scale similar to 9/11.
Those already under suspicion in Europe and elsewhere would be used as decoys, while others would prepare major attacks.
That is yet to materialize, but Musharbash believes a complex gun attack in Europe is still on al Qaeda's radar.
"I believe that the general idea is still alive and I believe that as soon as al Qaeda has the capacities to go after that scenario, they will immediately do it," he says.
While "Future Works" does not include dates or places, nor specific plans, it appears to be a brainstorming exercise to seize the initiative -- and reinstate al Qaeda on front pages around the world.
|French Court Charges 'Jihadist' Group|
|Members of Forsane Alizza, or Knights of Pride, are charged with "criminal association linked to terrorist network".|
Preliminary charges have been filed against 13 suspects in , a prosecutor has announced, saying some had been calling for Sharia law in the country, stashing weapons and hatching plots, one to kidnap a judge.
Prosecutor Francois Molins told a news conference on Tuesday that members of the Forsane Alizza, or Knights of Pride, received physical training in parks and forests around and religious indoctrination "in order to take part in a jihad", or holy war.
The group preached hate and violence on their internet site which "called for an Islamic caliphate in , the
application of the Sharia and incited s to unite to prepare for civil war", Molins said.
The site, which also showed clips of late al-Qaeda leader was shut down after authorities banned Forsane Alizza in March.
The charges handed down against some members of Forsane Alizza come amid a crackdown on hard-liners following the March killing spree in southern by a 23-year-old claiming links to al-Qaeda. The suspected gunman, Mohammed Merah, was killed after a 32-hour standoff with police.
President said Tuesday on Canal Plus TV that there is now "zero tolerance" for hate speech and ideologies which do not conform to the values of .
"You will see that in the weeks to come we will continue this absolutely systematic work of assuring the protection of the French by not tolerating such activities," Sarkozy said of the Forsane Alizza group.
The 13, among 17 suspects in police raids last week, faced preliminary charges of criminal association linked to a terrorist network, a sweeping charge with a maximum 10-year prison term that is used in to ensure a full investigation of terror suspects.
Nine of the 13 are being , Molins said. The other four must report regularly to police. Charges of acquiring, transporting and detention of arms also were issued. The remaining four of the 17 who had been were being released.
The prosecutor said several terror plans appeared to be in the works, including the kidnapping of a judge in Lyon, in southeast . An official close to the investigation said the targeted judge is Jewish.
Molins said the investigation, which formally opened in late October, showed the network was organized around Forsane Alizza leader Mohammed Achamlane, who is from the Nantes region in western .
"All the suspects confirmed Mohammed Achamlane's role of leader, coordinator and emir and his constant concern about acquiring weapons," Molins said.
Molins said the alleged plan to kidnap a magistrate who dealt with a child abuse case on a member of the Lyon cell was hatched at a September meeting.
The magistrate in question has been placed under police protection.
Other potential targets included people from groups that have spoken out against the community, the prosecutor said without elaboration.
It was not known whether this was a reference to groups actively seeking to protect French identity and decrying what they claim is the Islamicisation of .
Such groups are gaining strength around , and have been joined by far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.
Achamlane's lawyer later denied his client was involved in preparing terrorist acts, saying "there is no material act, no material incident constituting preparation of an act of terrorism, or even kidnapping".
Attorney Philippe Missamou claimed the reference to kidnapping of a judge was made at a public meeting of the group and others protesting an investigating magistrate's handling of the child abuse case, and blaming it on "injustice" because the group member was .
The prosecutor said police found stashes of weapons during their raids last Friday in the region and the cities of Nantes, Marseille, Nice, and Toulouse, as well as documents and computer equipment. The probe so far has shown that members had consulted internet sites showing how to make explosives, Molins said.
The prosecutor stressed the group had no link to the three attacks last month around Toulouse that left seven people dead, three paratroopers, a rabbi and three Jewish school children.
|Sarkozy Likens Toulouse Shootings To 9/11, Vowing Crackdown|
|French President has vowed to continue cracking down on the so-called suspected Islamists, comparing the recent Toulouse shootings to the September 11, 2001 incidents in the US.|
"The trauma... is profound for our country, a little -- I don't want to compare the horrors -- a little like the trauma that followed in the United States and in New York after the September 11, 2001 attacks," he said in an interview with Europe 1 radio on Friday.
On March 22, suspected shooter Mohammed Merah killed seven individuals in a shooting rampage in Toulouse.
Merah was later killed by French security forces. Authorities claim he had admitted to having links to al-Qaeda before his death, the circumstances of which remain murky as there are conflicting reports regarding the case.
French police have about 20 s in pre-dawn raids in Toulouse and reportedly seized Kalashnikov-type assault rifles.
On Sunday, authorities charged the gunman's brother, Abdel-Kader Merah, with complicity in the attacks, although he has denied any involvement in the terrorist incident.
|Israel Confirms Questioning Toulouse Terrorist In 2010|
|Defense sources confirm Mohammed Merah stopped in Israel en route to Afghanistan in September 2010, aroused suspicion of border officers but eventually allowed to enter country|
Sources in the Defense establishment confirmed on Monday that Toulouse terrorist Mohammed Merah had visited Israel.
According to examinations conducted recently, Merah, who murdered a rabbi and three children in a Jewish school last week, stopped in Israel en route to Afghanistan in September 2010.
Defense sources confirmed that the terrorist entered Israel from Jordan via the Allenby crossing. He was questioned after arousing the suspicion of border officers but was eventually allowed to enter Israel after it was determined he wasn't involved in terrorist activity.
Merah entered Israel as a tourist with a French passport. The sources had no knowledge of reports that he had been caught with a knife in Jerusalem, as claimed by a French minister last week. Merah left Israel after three days and returned to Jordan.
French newspaper Le ien revealed additional details from the terrorist's exchange with French police during the siege on his house. He told the officers that a day prior to the raid, he had noticed three suspicious cars parked outside his building. He also claimed he was being followed.
It was also reported that a day after the school shooting, where he shot to death four people, he drove to his hometown and played soccer.
|Teacher calls Toulouse shooter a "victim"|
|An English teacher sparked outrage across France today after calling for her pupils to observe a minute's silence for Toulouse serial killer Mohammed Merah.|
In disturbing scenes at Gustave Flaubert High School in Rouen, Normandy, Lorraine Collin, 56, described the 23-year-old who murdered seven including three children as himself being the 'victim of an unhappy childhood'.
This prompted up to 15 pupils aged between 17 and 18 to storm out of their classroom and report Ms Collin to their headmaster Luc Chatel, France's Education Minister, called for Ms Collin to be 'suspended immediately', saying he 'condemned this unspeakable behaviour without reservation'.
It came as Merah's elder brother said he was 'very proud' of what his brother had done, hailing him as someone who fought for what he believed in.