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.