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France Opens Investigation on Brother of Toulouse Terrorist

French police are investigating the brother of Toulouse terrorist Mohammed Merah, believing he may have been an accessory to the murders.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 3/26/2012, 12:15 AM

Police guarding French intelligence HQ
Police guarding French intelligence HQ
Reuters

French authorities have formally launched an investigation into the brother of Toulouse terrorist Mohammed Merah, believing he may have been an accessory to the murders.

Abdelkader Merah, the murderer's older brother, is suspected of assisting Mohammed in preparing his attacks. The 29-year-old Abdelkader Merah, has allegedly told police that he is “very proud” of his brother for murdering his victims. “I regret nothing for him and approve of what he did,” Abdelkader reportedly told investigators.

A special anti-terrorism judge was expected to rule on the indictment filed against him by Prosecutor Francois Molins in a French court Sunday.

Investigators are specifically looking at the older Merah's role in financing his brother's trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the terrorist told police he learned how to murder in Al Qaeda terrorist training camps.

Abdelkader Merah had been questioned by police several years ago in connection with a network that sent youths in the Toulouse area to Iraq, where they reportedly fought Western troops after having joined terrorist training camps. He was not charged with any crime at the time.

Abdelkader Merah also has taken five or six trips to Egypt in the past several years, allegedly to study Arabic literature. His wife, Yamina Mesbah – married in 2006 in a Muslim ceremony that was not recognized by French civil law – was later told by police that Merah had other motivations for the trips, however. She had joined him at least twice, but Merah went far more often, leading “a life... toward an extremely intense...fundamentalism” of which she was apparently unaware, according to Mesbah's lawyer, Guy Debuisson. Mesbah was also questioned over the weekend but was released early Sunday without being charged.

Molins told reporters the investigation will also be expanded to examine whether there might have been anyone else involved in the operation in which Merah murdered Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his young sons Aryeh and Gavriel, and the young daughter of the principal of Otzar HaTorah Jewish day school in Toulouse, where Sandler was a teacher. He also seriously wounded a 17-year-old college student in the same attack.

During two separate attacks in the prior week, Merah also shot and killed three French Muslim paratroopers, all of North African origin, in nearby Montauban.

The terrorist confessed to all the killings while speaking with police during their 30-hour siege on the apartment in which he was finally cornered before he jumped out a window, ending the standoff in a hail of gunfire.