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Shin Bet: Toulouse terrorist briefly visited Israel in 2010 (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Amos Harel 03/27/12)Source: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/shin-bet-toulouse-terrorist-briefly-visited-israel-in-2010-1.420882 HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
A Shin Bet security service review has established that the French terrorist Mohamed Merah spent time in Israel and the territories about a year and a half ago. Merah entered Israel from Jordan, crossing the Allenby Bridge in September 2010. He was questioned by Shin Bet men at the bridge, but this check did not reveal any suspicious details and Merah was allowed to enter the country.

Merah stayed in Israel for three days. He is not known to have taken up any sort of terror activity while in Israel. The Shin Bet inquiry has not corroborated a claim made by Bernard Squarcini, head of the Direction Centrale du Renseignement internal intelligence agency, who suggested that Merah was detained in Israel while in possession of a knife.

Security sources told Haaretz that Merah visited Israel before stays in Afghanistan and Pakistan; there was thus no concrete information suggesting that he posed a security risk. Merah, a 23-year-old unemployed car mechanic, defined by the French intelligence chief as a "little failure from the suburbs," was responsible for the murder of seven people, including three children and an adult at the Jewish school in Toulouse, along with three soldiers a few days earlier. Merah died after falling off a balcony when trying to flee from French police special forces, who kept him pinned in his apartment for about a full day.

Squarcini stated that "two years ago Merah toured around the Middle East, in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and even Israel. Later he traveled to Afghanistan. He traveled on irregular routes and was not on our radar screens, though he was monitored by foreign intelligence services, either American services or local services. He reached Kabul on November 13, 2010, and he returned to France on December 5."

Squarcini was asked how French intelligence services related to Merah when he returned to France. "We checked information that had been collected about him, but it didn´t amount to much. There wasn´t indication of ideological activity. He didn´t go to mosques," he said.

Some French security officials have suspected that Merah and his brother, who is accused of aiding and abetting murders, acted as part of an international terror network. But French President Nicolas Sarkozy dispelled this theory on Monday, saying that "there was no terror network. To the best of our knowledge, there was no such network."

Sarkozy described the attack as an isolated incident perpetrated by a deranged individual.

Before he was killed, Merah told policemen that he had connections with Al-Qaida, and that he had visited Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he had weapons training.

On Monday, indictments were submitted against Merah´s brother, Abbad al-Kadr, on counts of involvement in murder, and he was kept behind bars. But no evidence has been uncovered implicating the brother in the Jewish school massacre. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 03/27/12)

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