Intelligence officials on Monday confirmed reports that Toulouse mass murderer Mohammad Merah spent time in Israel over a year and a half ago.
According to the Shin Bet, Merah entered Israel via the Allenby Bridge from Jordan in September 2010. He was investigated by the Shin Bet – who did not unearth any suspicious information – and he was allowed to enter the country.
However, Shin Bet officials declined to confirm claims by French intelligence that Merah was arrested in Israel with a knife.
Merah stayed in Israel for a total of three days – visiting Arab towns in Judea and Samaria – during which it is unknown whether he was involved in any terror-related activity, they said.
Merah visited Israel before his stay in Afghanistan or Pakistan, which was why he was placed on French and American terror watch lists.
The revelation comes a day after a French judge placed Merah’s brother under formal investigation. Abdelkader Merah was remanded for the duration of an inquiry into suspected complicity in a spate of fatal shootings.
Mohamed Merah was shot dead by a police sniper last Thursday as he leapt from a window firing a pistol and oncoming police special forces who were raiding his apartment in the southern city of Toulouse to end a 32-hour standoff.
He earlier told police negotiators he had carried out the three shootings in Toulouse and its surrounding area – killing three French paratroopers and four local Jews, including three children – to “avenge the deaths of Palestinian children” and protest against the French army's role in Afghanistan.
He said his only regret was that he did not have time to carry out more murders.