Toulouse Killings: Did Sarkozy and French Officials Fail to Stop Merah?

After an initial expression of national unity following the killings of seven people by Mohammed Merah, France has descended into “political recrimination and criticism,” says the New York Times. Presidential elections are to be held in just four weeks and the major candidates had suspended campaigning after the attacks on Monday and the previous week. But as government officials have sought to defuse questions about whether French intelligence advisers could have stopped Merah, candidates have been questioning how President Nicholas Sarkozy handled the attacks.

video of the apartment where Merah was besieged for over 30 hours has been released by French media. His brother, Albdelkader, has been arrested and said that he is “proud” of his brother’s acts; his unnamed girlfriend and mother, Zoulika Aziri, have also been arrested.

Before the past two weeks, the campaign had focused on economic issues. Now commentators are asking if the aftermath of Merah’s killings could be an “Oklahoma City” for Sarkozy, writes Eric Paper on Foreign Policy. How indeed was Merah able to stockpile a number of firearms including several automatic weapons, which are difficult to procure in France? According to the Wall Street Journal, the FBI had placed Merah on their terrorist watch list following his arrest in Afghanistan in 2010. French authorities have said that they knew that he had been to Afghanistan and Pakistan and that Merah had been under surveillance.

François Hollande, the Socialist front-runner and chief rival to Sarkozy, outright suggested that authorities ought to have been able to stop Merah and that there was a “flaw” in intelligence officials’ tracking of him. Marine Le Pen, of the far-right National Front, accused her rivals of not addressing “security issues, and more particularly, the problems of Islamic fundamentalism”; these, she said, had been “willfully pushed out of the themes of the campaign.”

Sarkozy is also being criticized for a harsh and fast crackdown on terrorism. On Thursday, he proposed a new law that would put repeat visitors to extremist websites behind bars and he is meeting with ministers and police chiefs on Saturday.

Nonetheless, according to polls cited in the Guardian, two-thirds of voters approve of Sarkozy’s response to the crisis. Hollande received 28 percent of support to Sarkozy’s 30 percent.

21-year-old Caroline Monet, the pregnant fiancée of French paratrooper Abel Chennouf who was killed at a cash machine in Montauban, is seeking permission to posthumously marry him at a ceremony in a few weeks. In France, such ceremonies are allowed in cases where a fiancé dies prior to the wedding; such ceremonies must be approved by the French president and are only possible in “grave circumstances.” A family lawyer for Gilbert Collard described such a ceremony as “really moving, with an empty chair representing the dead spouse.”

Previous Care2 Coverage

Visit a Terrorist Website, Go To Jail?

BREAKING: French Shooter Dead After 32-Hour Siege

French Gunman Planned to Kill Again, Under Siege With Police


Photo by Richard Pichet via Wikimedia Commons


David E.
David E4 years ago

Dumitru Z. People are not puppies. You can find people around the world who are mistreated much worse than Muslims and they do not go around killing the innocent - like 3 Muslim soldiers, and 3 Jewish children and their teacher. This is not "sick" but "indoctrination".
Stop blaming others for your faults. The Jewish People have been persecuted over the centuries and look how many Nobel Prize winners they have. This is because instead of blaming others, they worked hard to better themselves within the societies they lived regardless of how they were treated.

Decobecq Brigitte
Decobecq B4 years ago


I want just to give another element to this terrorist action.
Merah was hospitalized in psychiatry befor commiting his terrorist actions.
And nothing was done. Psychiatrists could be seen that Merah had behavior problems.
Nothing was done or perhaps the contrary. Has Merah taken some drugs with side effects of violence, destruction, murders... That is a question that must be taken in account.
At this time Merah would have been help to change his view point for a little better, and nobody would have been killed.

Dumitru Z.
Dumitru Z.4 years ago

There's no Muslim problem nor any other problem. In fact all are political interests. They've always tried to through some dust into our eyes. But you know, when you hit a little puppy on his nose with a stick, for sure he'll bite you when it'll grow. That's the real problem: when you don't have public focus on your activities, then you'll create a major problem, so people will see you the smartest, the most handsome and the most brave of all.

A N M.
anne M5 years ago

I really don't like Sarkozy and hope he loses the election, still, I want to point out that in France a criminal has to commit a crime before he can be arrested and tried. Yes, Merah is a dangerous freak but let's face it, until he committed his crimes, there was nothing anybody could have done, not Sarkozy, Girac, Mitterrand, de Gaulle, or even Napoleon. That's just the way it is.

Ernest R.
Ernest R5 years ago

@ Sue J. “I don't see how any government, however vigilant, is going to stop every one of these lone assassins “ How about not welcoming adherents of a ‘religion’, sworn to destroy your country’s culture and establish a cruel religious dictatorship, in the first place ? Of course you would miss the precious diversity. Could you be happy without it ?

Tommy S.
Tommy S5 years ago

it is in the Muslim world's interest to keep the West ignorant of the fact that, irrespective of all Muslim grievances — real or feigned — nothing less than Islamic law itself mandates a state of constant hostility. Indeed, if the implications of offensive jihad were fully embraced, humanity might be compelled to view the Muslim world as a perpetual, existentialist threat, in need of preemptive containment. That said, and considering the willful ignorance of the West's political elite — who are guided less by objective facts and more by their "feel-good" ideals — Muslim talk of offensive jihad, no matter how loud or ubiquitous, will likely continue to fall on deaf ears.

David E.
David E5 years ago

Just as methods used by terrorists change so do the methods used by law enforcement agencies. Our concept of “privacy” has to be overhauled carefully so as to maintain our democratic society; however we must also be protected from those who want to destroy our democratic society.

By doing just that the Italian police prevented a Jihadist attack against a synagogue in Milano.
He was identified through his Internet use, including his six Facebook pages and his use of Google Maps to zoom in on areas around the synagogue "in a way that suggested he was casing the security, not browsing casually," ….

The lone Jihadists are difficult to detect unless our laws allow it. I would rather have a little less privacy than be blown up or shot.

Read more:

Tommy S.
Tommy S5 years ago

@Caroline R
quote...It is certainly not in the Muslim religion to murder ...Unquote
This is untrue because the finest example of behavior for a muslim to emulate did in fact
authorize murder and torture on many occasions and even authorized the telling of lies to achieve that
Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 59, Number 369
Allah's Apostle said, "Who is willing to kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?" Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, "O Allah's Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?" The Prophet said, "Yes," Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab). "The Prophet said, "You may say it."

Vicky Madaule
Vicky Madaule5 years ago

We here in France live in a state that lives by law. You can't arrest a citizen because of his ideas or his foreign trips. This is not the world of "Minority Report" and unfortunately you can't arrest someone before he commits a crime. In this case, Mohammed Merah was a French citizen born in France and not a "foreigner" as some people have said. In no way could anyone justify his acts any more than you could justify the American killing innocent women and children in Afghanistan. Radical religions are to be fought wherever they are, but the countries where they are are generally corrupt and cause people to turn to them not realising that that solution is worse than the problem.

Ernest R.
Ernest R5 years ago

@ Ang H. “ HOW WOULD YOU ALL FEEL IF” I think that it is clear enough how I, or anyone else would feel about the horrors you mention. How would you feel if armed foreigners moved uninvited into your area, stoned your children on the way to school and shot your neighbors, and yes, their and your children ? Or if they sealed off the area you live in, shot people on an ongoing basis, bulldozed your home, took away your neighbors to concentration camps ? Or if they bombed your defenceless cities with white phosphorous and fragmentation bombs, and having designated a safe house for women and children, bombed it once they were inside? Tell me how you would feel. Maybe enough anger to return the favor, quite apart from religious beliefs?