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Toulouse shooting: French police arrest ´jihadist´ in pre-dawn raid (TELEGRAPH UK) Amy Willis and agencies 03/21/12) Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/9157043/Toulouse-shooting-French-police-arrest-jihadist-in-pre-dawn-raid.html DAILY TELEGRAPH DAILY TELEGRAPH Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Gunfire rang out early Wednesday morning as French police launched a pre-dawn raid and arrested a self-proclaimed al Qaeda jihadist over the cold-blooded killings of three children and a rabbi.

Armed police swooped on the house in the Cote Pavee residential district of Toulouse at 3am local time, exchanging fire briefly with the gunman, before making the arrest. The suspect told police he was a jihadist for al Qaeda seeking revenge for Palestinian children and French military postings overseas.

Two police officers were injured as the operation got underway. "He claims to be a mujahideen and to belong to al Qaeda," Claude Gueant, the French interior minister told journalists at the scene of the siege. "He wanted revenge for the Palestinian children and he also wanted to take revenge on the French army because of its foreign interventions."

The area surrounding the house was cordoned off by police officers wearing full body armour and helmets, thought to be members of France´s special weapons squad RAID.

The suspect´s mother was also brought to the scene.

"She was asked to make contact with her son, to reason with him, but she did not want to, saying she had little influence on him," Mr Gueant said. "This person has made trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the past ... and says he belongs to Al-Qaeda and says he wanted to avenge Palestinian children and to attack the French army."

"He has links with people involved in jihadism and salafism," he added, referring to two strains of Muslim thought that have influenced Al-Qaeda.

A source close to the inquiry told AFP a 24-year-old suspect had exchanged words with the RAID team and had declared himself to be a member of al Qaeda. He is believed to have travelled to the lawless region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, known to be an al Qaeda safehaven.

"He was in the DCRI´s sights, as were others, after the first two attacks," an official said, referring to France´s domestic intelligence service, adding: "Then the criminal investigation police brought in crucial evidence."

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant had arrived at the operation site, in the Croix-Daurade district of the southwestern city of Toulouse, scene of two of the shooting incidents over the previous nine days, he said.

Police in body armour and helmets had sealed off the neighbourhood, an AFP journalist at the scene reported.

The serial killer at the centre of France´s biggest ever man-hunt cold-bloodedly executed all his victims with a shot to the head and may even have filmed his racist killing spree with a view to posting it on the internet.

The scooter gunman shot each of his seven victims, including three young children, at such close range that the gunfire burned their skin, a French prosecutor revealed on Tuesday.

Terrifying comparisons have been drawn between him and Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who went on a shooting rampage that killed 77 young people at a holiday camp outside Oslo last July.

"The killer had a camera strapped to his chest (during the school attack) that would allow him to film and view the footage on a computer," confirmed Claude Gueant, France´s Interior Minister, on Tuesday. "The camera is a clue. It adds to the psychological profile we´re establishing for the killer."

It was thought to be the same kind of camera that Breivik recommended in a rambling racist manifesto published ahead of his massacre. Police were scouring the internet for the Toulouse killer´s footage, but no trace had yet been found. The killing of a teacher and three children at a Jewish school on Monday was linked to two earlier shootings of French paratroopers.

Police have determined that the same .45 calibre handgun was used in all three attacks and that the gunman sped away on the same Yamaha T- Max scooter, a motorcycle that was stolen from a central Toulouse street on March 6. Source: agencies (© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2012. 03/21/12)

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