Sobering report here:
It seems that French law enforcement and counter-terrorism may have some problems.
Merah: The ‘Untold Story’ of a French Jihadist Icon
The undisputed icon and role model for this new generation of French jihadists is Mohamed Merah. In March 2012, the 23-year-old went on a killing spree in and around his native Toulouse, assassinating three French paratroopers in two separate incidents before pulling up in front of a Jewish school on his signature T-Max motorbike and executing three small children and a teacher at point-blank range. He died in a shootout with police three days later, following a 32-hour siege of his apartment.
Jordanov’s research provides a unique window onto Merah’s life and crimes, offering important insight into his motives and the unflinching brutality of the ideology to which he subscribed. But it also reveals mind-boggling failings on the part of French counterterrorism. The story of Mohamed Merah is, in effect, that of a train wreck waiting to happen or, to paraphrase his brother Abdelghani, a ticking time bomb waiting to explode—while French intelligence looked on.
Indeed, in conversation with negotiators during the siege of his apartment, Merah himself expressed amazement at the fact that he was able to carry out his attacks unhindered, attributing his success—and the failure of French authorities—to the will of Allah. To coax Merah out of the building, the police had called in none other than Hassan Loubane, the local DCRI officer in charge of Merah’s file. Alluding to his own carelessness in having sent e-mails to his family during a 2011 trip to an al-Qaeda stronghold in Pakistan’s notorious tribal regions, Merah chided Loubane and his colleagues for their failure to react. “Hamdulillah!”—praise God—Merah exclaimed, “Allah made you blind!” Jordanov confirms that French intelligence officials, thanks to their American colleagues at the National Security Agency, were aware of at least some of these e-mails.
The blindness of French security services continued even after Merah had begun his killing spree, indeed even after he had been identified as a suspect and located. Jordanov describes Merah casually slipping out of his apartment on the evening of March 20th—this despite a hundred French police and intelligence officers already staking out the premises, who somehow failed to see him go. It is only thanks to the fact that Merah came back a few hours later—on his own account, to retrieve materials that he needed for another planned attack—that a French SWAT team did not end up raiding an empty apartment. His return, incidentally, also appears to have gone unperceived.
Merah told Loubane, his intelligence contact, that a minivan full of French gendarmes drove right past him as he was in the process of committing his first murder: the execution of French paratrooper Imad Ibn Ziaten in a deserted parking lot on March 11, 2012. (The gendarmerie is a national police force.) Merah said that the driver of the van looked him “straight in the eyes.” “Your gendarmes don’t even intervene,” Merah mockingly told Loubane, “They could have arrested me and look [what happened]!”