French terror suspect inspired by Toulouse murderer

French police say man suspected of planning attack on nursery school was inspired by terrorist Mohammed Merah.

Ben Ariel,

Paris
Paris
Reuters

French police say a man suspected of planning a thwarted attack on a nursery school was inspired by Mohammed Merah, the terrorist who killed three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012, JTA reported on Thursday.

The man arrested last week in the Seine-et-Marne region near Paris described himself as the “heir of Mohammed Merah.” He reportedly had been planning an attack on children at a nursery school, and had already selected the school, BFM TV reported.

The man, who was known to French intelligence services, was charged on March 29 with planning a terror attack and remains in police custody.

Merah murdered Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and two of his children as well as another girl in March 2012 at the Otzar Hatorah school in Toulouse.

Days earlier, Merah had killed three French soldiers in two attacks in the suburb of Montauban, France. He was killed in a shootout with police in his Toulouse apartment where he hid after the school killings.

France has been hit by a wave of terrorist attacks in recent years, beginning with the 2015 attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine which was followed by the attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in which four people were murdered.

Since those attacks, France has been hit by a number of attacks claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS), the biggest one being the attack in November of 2015 in which 129 people were murdered.

The country has been under a heightened alert in recent years in the wake of the attacks.

In addition, France has experienced a string of anti-Semitic incidents, including anti-Semitic violence. Last month, vandals scrawled anti-Semitic graffiti on a former synagogue in in the town of Mommenheim.

Two days earlier, vandals toppled a monument to a synagogue which was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.

In another anti-Semitic incident, statements celebrating the Holocaust were sent in a letter to a Jewish school south of Paris and, separately, the words “death to Jews” were painted on the fence of a synagogue north of the city.

Last December, grave markers in a Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg in eastern France were vandalized with swastikas and other neo-Nazi tags.

Also that month, a 20-year-old Jewish woman was beaten and robbed by two teens hurling anti-Semitic epithets.

Last March, 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll was murdered and set on fire in her apartment in Paris. Knoll’s Muslim neighbor, Yacine Mihoub, and an accomplice, confessed to stabbing Knoll to death. Authorities described the murder as an anti-Semitic hate-crime.

In April 2017, another elderly French Jewish woman, Sarah Halimi, was stabbed to death.




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