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French shooter was on U.S. “no fly” list

Reuters

March 22, 2012 | 2:02 pm

An undated and non-datelined video frame grab broadcast March 21 by French national television station France 2 who they claim to show Mohamed Merah, the suspect in the killing of 3 paratroopers, 3 children and a rabbi in recent days in France. Photo by REUTERS/France 2 Television/Handout

An undated and non-datelined video frame grab broadcast March 21 by French national television station France 2 who they claim to show Mohamed Merah, the suspect in the killing of 3 paratroopers, 3 children and a rabbi in recent days in France. Photo by REUTERS/France 2 Television/Handout

The French Islamist gunman suspected of murdering seven people who was killed in a shootout with police on Thursday was on a “no fly” list maintained by U.S. authorities, two American officials said.

The officials would not disclose precisely when the militant, Mohammed Merah, was placed on the U.S. watch list, but they said his name was added some time ago.

Merah, suspected of shooting three French paratroopers, three young children and a rabbi, was killed during an exchange of gunfire with police who besieged his apartment in the French city of Toulouse.

U.S. and French authorities said Merah, who was of Algerian origin, had traveled to Afghanistan around 2010 to obtain training from Islamic militants. He had spent time with militants along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border before being captured and returned to France.

At some point after his capture, two other U.S. officials said, Merah was held in custody by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Precise details of how and when this occurred and what happened to him next are still unclear.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball; editing by Christopher Wilson

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