Toulouse gunman was a ‘French spy’

Updated 10 November 2012
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Toulouse gunman was a ‘French spy’

PARIS: Mohamed Merah, the gunman who went on a deadly shooting spree in Toulouse earlier this year, was an informer for French intelligence, the father of one of his seven victims said yesterday.
“Merah was protected by the DCRI (intelligence agency) which was depending on him to help them dismantle militant networks,” Albert Chennouf, whose soldier son Abel Chennouf was killed on March 15, told Le Point magazine.
He said that the French authorities’ attempt to portray Merah as a lone wolf was a lie and that President Francois Hollande was, like his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, simply “afraid of the truth”.
But the killer’s brother Abdelghani Merah said in a book due out next week — titled “Merah, My Brother The Terrorist” — that Mohamed had such a hatred of the police and authority in general that it was impossible he could have been a DCRI informer.
Merah, a self-described Al-Qaeda sympathiser, was shot dead in a police siege.
French police last month unveiled a damning report that indicated Merah could and should have been stopped before he embarked on his deadly shooting.
Separate reports from the DCRI show that Merah was under intense surveillance throughout 2011 but that agents decided to reduce monitoring.
They show that Merah, who had been under surveillance since 2006, was identified as a “privileged target” at the beginning of last year after returning from a trip to Afghanistan, where he was detained in November 2010.
Surveillance from March to July indicated he was in regular contact with “the radical Islamist movement in Toulouse”, was showing “paranoid behaviour” and was receiving funds from extremists.
Merah travelled to Pakistan between August and October last year and met with DCRI agents upon his return.


Mother of ‘nut rage’ Korean Air heiress questioned

Updated 6 min 7 sec ago
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Mother of ‘nut rage’ Korean Air heiress questioned

SEOUL: The scandal engulfing the Korean Air dynasty widened Monday as 69-year-old matriarch Lee Myung-hee faced police questioning over allegations she assaulted employees including household staff and construction workers renovating her home.
Lee’s two daughters, who held management positions at South Korea’s top carrier, became viral sensations for their own temper tantrums which were dubbed the “nut rage” and “water rage” scandals online.
“I am sorry for causing trouble,” a bespectacled Lee said with her head lowered as she walked past throngs of journalists before entering a Seoul police office.
Lee is accused of assaulting drivers and housekeepers from her personal staff as well as construction workers renovating her home and building a Korean Air-affiliated hotel.
The alleged abuses range from cursing and screaming at employees to kicking, slapping and even throwing a pair of scissors at them.
A video that emerged last month showed a woman, reportedly Lee, shoving a female construction worker and throwing a pile of documents on the ground.
Only last week, Lee’s daughter Cho Hyun-ah was summoned before immigration authorities over allegations she hired 10 Filipino maids to work at her family home on false pretenses, by claiming they were working for Korean Air.
It is illegal in South Korea to hire foreigners as domestic helpers.
Cho Hyun-ah made global headlines in 2014 for kicking a cabin crew chief off a Korean Air plane in a fury over being served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than a bowl. She later served a short prison sentence.
Earlier this year, her younger sister Cho Hyun-min was accused of throwing a drink at an advertising agency manager’s face in a fit of rage during a business meeting.
Authorities have since launched a flurry of official probes into the family’s reported abuse of workers, as well as smuggling and immigration law violations.
Their father, Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, issued a public apology over the “immature” behavior of his offspring and removed his two daughters from their management roles.
But that has done little to placate employees. Hundreds of Korean Air workers have held weekly protests in Seoul demanding the ouster of the Cho clan from the country’s flag carrier — a rare act of defiance in the country that prizes loyalty among workers.
The current chairman’s late father founded the Hanjin Group — the South’s 14th-largest business group that runs logistics, transport and hotels businesses as well as Korean Air.