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Monday, March 24, 2014

Another look at a French 'lone wolf' -- By Lisa Lundquist, The Long War Journal

 
mohamed_merah.jpgTwo years ago, when most media reports were generally parroting French officials' claims that the deadly attack in March 2012 by Toulouse shooter Mohamed Merah was a "lone wolf"-type operation by a disadvantaged youth, we at The Long War Journal began exploring Merah's likely al Qaeda connections. Merah had, after all, proclaimed that he was al Qaeda.

[See LWJ reports, Al Qaeda gunman in France reportedly escaped Afghan prison; French suspect claims al Qaeda ties, escaped from Kandahar jail; and Toulouse shooter's al Qaeda ties played down by officials; and Threat Matrix reports, Jund al Khilafah claims French shooting; Al Qaeda touts operations in Ghazni; and Jund al Khilafah emir killed in 'treacherous raid'.]

As we noted back in 2012, Merah had been trained in Pakistan by a Swiss jihadist named Moezeddine Garsallaoui, who was the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Jund al Khilafah until he was killed, most likely by a drone strike, in the jihadist haven of Miramshah in Pakistan's North Waziristan in October 2012.

Now the media seems to be catching up, as the Jerusalem Post recently reported, citing a lengthy investigation by Le Parisen:
After 24 months of inquiry, [Le Parisien] recently obtained the first evidence of Mohammed Merah's links with one of Osama bin Laden's lieutenants, the paper said, quoting judicial sources.
Last December, Urynbasar Munatov, a 26-year-old Kazakh arrested in Pakistan in the fall of 2012, found guilty of terrorism and sentenced to 20 years in prison, revealed during questioning that he had discussed the apprentice terrorist (Merah) with Moez Garsallaoui, a Belgian-Tunisian who was responsible for al-Qaida in Europe. Garsallaoui had talked of the presence of the French Algerian in his training camp in Pakistan, a camp called Miran Shah located in the province of Waziristan. The camp was dedicated to the training of European jihad candidates. Urnybasar himself had been there.
...
Munatov revealed: "I saw [a photo of Merah], Garsallaoui himself showed it to me. He told me that his name was Muhammed Mira, that he had a second first name, Yussuf. He used to live in Waziristan, and also stayed for a while with Moez in Miran Shah."
...
According to Moez "there was a deal between him and Yussuf: If he, Merah, took action, then Moez would consider them as his own, as having been organized and executed according to his orders."
The Jerusalem Post article observed in conclusion that "[u]ntil now, Merah's contacts with Garsallaoui were only presumed, since it was hard to believe that a young man without a good level of Arabic could be involved with one of bin Laden's assistants, and also because there was no traces of relevant messages in his emails."

(Click link below to read more)
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