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Toulouse gunman Merah was ‘raised to hate Jews’

Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah was raised in an atmosphere of anti-Semitism and racial hatred, according to a new book written by his brother. On Monday, it emerged Merah’s sister Souad faces possible charges of “glorifying terrorism”.

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Mohamed Merah, the gunman who shot and killed a rabbi, three Jewish children and three paratroopers in the southwestern French city of Toulouse in March 2012, grew up surrounded by racial hatred and anti-Semitism, according to a book written by his older brother.

“I will explain how my parents raised [Mohamed] in an atmosphere of racism and hate before the Salafis [ultraconservative Muslims] could douse [him] in religious extremism,” 36-year-old Abdelghani Merah wrote in his book “My brother, the terrorist,” due out on Wednesday.

“I am furious with my parents for bringing him up in violence and intolerance, with my sister Souad who applauded his fundamentalist delusions, with my brother Abdelkader who actively encouraged him,” he wrote.

Sister ‘under investigation’

On Monday, police sources revealed Souad will be formally investigated by prosecutors in Paris on allegations of “glorifying terrorism” after she was secretly filmed by Abdelghani saying she was “proud” of Mohamed’s deadly acts.

The move follows the broadcasting of a report on French TV channel M6 in which Abdelghani confronted his sister and his mother in interviews that were filmed with hidden cameras.

“I am proud of [Mohamed], he fought to the very end. I told this to the police and I’m telling you too.”

“The Jews, and all those who massacre Muslims, I hate them all. Abdelkader and I support the Salafists, who are the only ones to act.”

“But it was Mohamed who was brave enough to go through with this. I am proud, proud, proud.”

According to police sources, investigators will now look into the circumstances in which Souad made her comments to see whether charges can be brought.

Entire Merah family responsible

At the opening of Sunday’s broadcast Abdelghani said: “My mother always said ‘we, the Arabs, we were born to hate Jews’. I heard this speech throughout my childhood.”

In 2003, Abdelghani was stabbed by his younger brother Abdelkader because he had started a relationship with a woman with Jewish family connections. Abdelkader is the only person to have been arrested in connection with the March killings. He is accused of directly helping 23-year-old Mohamed plan and carry out the murders.

But according to Abdelghani, the entire Merah family bears responsibility for a crime that shocked France and lifted the veil on simmering anti-Semitism within France’s large Muslim community.

“I am furious with my maternal uncles ... who ceaselessly propagated hatred, racism and anti-semitism in front of us from a very young age,” he writes in his book.

Intelligence failures

Both Souad Merah and her brother Abdelkader had been under surveillance by France’s domestic intelligence agency (DCRI) because of their links to Salafist groups.

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But according to the DCRI’s former boss Bernard Squarcini, the pair were considered to be a much more dangerous security threat than their younger brother. Mohamed had also been under intense surveillance for a number of years, but this dropped off at the end of 2011.

Some relatives of Merah’s victims have claimed that Merah may have become a DCRI informer after his return from Afghanistan in 2010, where police believe he attended a terrorist training camp.

Abdelghani Merah dismisses this theory in his book: “Mohamed had a profound hatred of the police and could never have worked for such an organisation."

“He hated the entire system. Quite simply he became, after many years of petty criminality, a fanatical Islamist who wanted to start a war with the French state and against what he called ‘miscreants.”

“Any other theory is pure fantasy.”
 

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