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Report: Toulouse killer had contacts in 20 countries, including Israel

JTA

August 27, 2012 | 9:00 am

Mohamed Merah and shown on France 2 TV. Photo by REUTERS/France 2 Television

Mohamed Merah and shown on France 2 TV. Photo by REUTERS/France 2 Television

Mohammed Merah, the killer of four Jews from Toulouse,reportedly had contacted people in 20 countries including Israel before perpetrating the murders.

The daily newspaper Le Monde reported last week that French security services declassified records that showed Merah had exchanged information over the telephone with people from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Kenya, Bolivia, Thailand and even Bhoutan.

The records, according to Le Monde, cast doubts on the theory of French security services that Merah - the killer of a rabbi and three children - had acted alone.

Shortly after Merah’s attack, Claude Gueant - the French interior minister at the time - said he believed Merah was a lone wolf.

French security forces killed Merah days after he shot dead four people at Otzar Hatorah school in Toulouse: Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, two of his children and the young daughter of the school’s principal. Four days before the March 19 attack in Toulouse, he killed three French soldiers at nearby Montauban.

The records on the Merah’s telephone communications were reportedly declassified by the French counter-terrorism agency, DCRI, on Aug. 3, and pertain to the period between September 2010 and February 2011.

Merah reportedly is listed in the records as having conducted 186 telephone conversations with 94 telephone numbers in those countries and others. Merah conducted more than 1,500 additional phone calls to numbers inside France, the Le Monde report says.

Merah used his mother’s cellular phone to conduct the calls, according to Le Monde. During that period, Merah took several trips to the Middle East and Afghanistan.

French media recently reported the French security services flagged Merah as a “person of interest” as early as 2009, due to contacts with radicals from the Toulouse area.

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