The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, has confirmed that the man responsible for last week’s shooting rampage at Toulouse Jewish school Ozar HaTorah visited Israel in 2010.
According to a Shin Bet investigation, Mohammed Merah entered Israel via the Allenby Bridge from Jordan in September 2010, before traveling on to Afghanistan,where he attended an al-Qaeda training camp. The investigation also revealed that the Shin Bet questioned Merah at the time, but having found nothing to arouse suspicion, permitted him to enter Israel.
Merah, who entered on a French passport, is reported to have stayed in Israel for three days. The Shin Bet has yet to turn up any evidence of terror-related links or activities during his stay, and thus could not confirm the claim made by a French intelligence chief last Friday that Merah was arrested with a knife while in Jerusalem.
This revelation comes amid confirmed reports that the killer was on the U.S. ‘no-fly’ list. U.S. officials have said that Merah was placed on the list some time ago, but have thus far refused to provide more details. Pressure is mounting on French intelligence agencies to admit to serious intelligence lapses and submit to a government inquiry.
Yesterday, a French judge brought Merah’s brother closer to criminal trial by placing Abdelkader Merah under formal investigation for complicity in Mohammed Merah’s shooting spree. Abdelkader has denied involvement in his brother’s attacks, but said that he was “proud” of what he had done.
Mohammed Merah died after resisting police who stormed his apartment last Thursday after a 32 hour stand-off. In the course of the siege, he told the police that he was responsible for the killings and that he planned to kill again. He expressed no regret and said it was too bad he did not “take out” more victims. He also expressed pride that he had “brought France to its knees.”