Daily Israel Report

Officials: Toulouse Gunman Planned New Murder

French officials say today's siege of Mohammad Merah's apartment came after it was learned he was planning a new attack.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 3/21/2012, 6:27 PM

Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Reuters

A French prosecutor said a gunman suspected of seven recent killings and claiming allegiance to al-Qaeda was about to strike again.

Prosecutor Francois Molins told AFP that the gunman remains holed up in an apartment in the city of Toulouse more than 13 hours after the standoff began before dawn Wednesday.

He said the gunman, Mohamed Merah, had been to Afghanistan twice and had trained in the terrorist stronghold of Waziristan.

Merah murdered four Jews – three children and a rabbi – outside the Otzar HaTorah school on Monday.

Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, his sons Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 3, and 8-year-old Myriam Monsenego were laid to rest in Jerusalem even as police continued their siege on Merah's hideout.

French Foreign Minister Claude Gueant said Monday that Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin wanted to "take revenge for Palestinian children."

The suspect "wants to take revenge for Palestinian children" killed in the Middle East and "has various grievances with the French military," Gueant said as police laid siege to Merah's apartment.

Upon hearing of Merah’s motives, PA prime minister Salam Fayyad denounced him saying "It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine.”

Marc Sztulman of the Representative Council of Jewish  Institutions in France (CRIF - Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France) told AP that President Nicolas Sarkozy told community leaders the sudden seige and raid on Merah's building was precipitated by reports he was about to slay another soldier.

Sarkozy, speaking at a ceremony in nearby Montauban honoring three paratroopers murdered by Merah in two previous attacks over the last 10 days, described the killings as a "terrorist execution."

The suspect is "surrounded by the forces of order," Sarkozy added.