Saturday, March 24, 2012

French gunman Mohammed Merah's brother Abdelkader Merah, who said he was proud of his brother's murders, whisked to Paris intelligence HQ

Police found explosives in Abdelkader Merah's car. He was already known to security services for having helped smuggle jihadists into Iraq in 2007.
PARIS (Reuters) - The brother of an al Qaeda-inspired gunman who murdered seven people was whisked to Paris on Saturday for further questioning and a police source disclosed he had said he was "proud" of his late sibling's killing spree.

President Nicolas Sarkozy summoned ministers and police chiefs to a meeting on Saturday to discuss the consequences of Mohamed Merah's massacre, which has raised troubling national security questions four weeks ahead of a presidential election.

Sarkozy is facing an uphill re-election battle and his chief intelligence adviser sought to head off media questions about the handling of the affair in the southwest city of Toulouse.

Abdelkader Merah, elder brother of the 23-year-old gunman who died in a hail of police gunfire on Thursday, was taken by car from police barracks in Toulouse for transfer to the capital, along with his wife, a judicial source said.

Both were arrested in the early hours of last Wednesday as negotiators sought their help in trying to persuade Merah to turn himself in. Merah's mother, arrested at the same time, was released on Friday evening, the public prosecutor's office said.

Her lawyer, Jean-Yves Gougnaud, said she told him "she saw nothing coming" and felt guilty for what had happened.

Merah was killed by a sniper after a gunbattle with police that ended a more than 30-hour siege at his Toulouse apartment, during which he admitted killing three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three soldiers in three separate attacks.

Abdelkader Merah and his wife, whose name was not given, were transferred to a detention centre at the headquarters of the DCRI domestic intelligence agency in Paris, where a judge was likely to decide in a matter of hours whether there were grounds for opening legal proceedings over possible links with Mohamed Merah's attacks.

Police have found explosives in a car Abdelkader owned, according to the public prosecutor leading the case. He was already known to security services for having helped smuggle jihadist militants into Iraq in 2007.

A police source said on Saturday that at a closed hearing in Toulouse he had declared himself "proud" of his brother's killings and had admitted helping Mohamed steal the scooter used in all seven murders. He had denied any knowledge of his brother's murderous plans, however, the source added.