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Western spies failed to tell France of Mohamed Merah's links to al Qaeda group - book

Reuters/Jean-Philippe Arles

Western spy services had intelligence linking Mohamed Merah to an organisation close to Al-Qaeda, but failed to inform France before he shot seven people dead earlier this year, according to a new book. 


Merah was detected in Pakistan's North Waziristan region in 2011 but France was not informed until after the killings, according to the book, to be published on 14 June.

"The Merah Case: the Investigation" written by journalists Eric Pelletier and Jean-Marie Pontaut says "Western intelligence services" established a link between Merah and "an organisation close to Al-Qaeda."

It says the spy services had detected the activation of "two Internet addresses" linked to Merah in September 2011 in Miranshah, the capital of Pakistan's Taliban and Al-Qaeda stronghold of North Waziristan.

The book also says Merah was detected at the time using a telephone number known
to be used to contact an extremist group.

The journalists say that France's DCRI domestic intelligence service "recognises" having received the information, but only "several days after" Merah's killings in southern France.

Merah, a self-confessed Al-Qaeda follower who admitted to having been in Waziristan, was killed in a police siege in Toulouse in March after shooting dead seven people, including three Jewish children, in a spree which shocked France.

Critics question how France's intelligence services failed to prevent Merah's killing spree, given that he was already on their radar as an extremist and was on a US "no-fly" list.

France's new Interior Minister Manuel Valls told Monday's Le Parisien newspaper that he had asked the DCRI and national police for a report on "what was dysfunctional" in the Merah case.

Meanwhile Valls on Tuesday held a meeting with the families of the Jewish victims killed by Merah, in order to update them on events surrounding the affair and inform them of their rights.

Valls is also seeing representatives of France’s Jewish community to discuss anti-Semitic crimes.

On Saturday three Jewish youngsters wearing kippas were attacked in Villeurbanne near Lyon, and Jewish organisations have documented a rise in such attacks since the Mohammed Merah incident in March.



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