Israel checking whether Toulouse killer visited

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli authorities are investigating a French media report that Toulouse terrorist Mohammed Merah visited Israel.

Merah’s passport, found by French police after he was killed in a shootout Thursday, showed that he visited Israel, Syria, Iraq and Jordan, the Le Monde newspaper reported.

Merah had confessed during the more than 30-hour standoff at his apartment in Toulouse to a gun attack on the city’s Ozar Hatorah school on March 19 that killed Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, and his two young sons, as well as the 7-year-old daughter of the school’s principal. A self-described al-Qaida member, Merah also was wanted for the murders of three French troops.

Israel’s Interior Ministry said it had no record of a Merah’s name among tourists who entered the country in recent years, but police and secret service authorities said Sunday the possibility that he had visited under another identity was still being checked.

Asked about the possibility that Merah had come to Israel, perhaps to reconnoiter for an attack, Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor told Channel Two television Saturday, "I heard about this in the press. I don’t know what the facts are, exactly."

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