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

(JTA) — Mohammed Merah reportedly contacted people in 20 countries, including Israel, before killing four people at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.

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, among others.

The records, according to Le Monde, cast doubts on the theory of French security services that Merah 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 the killings at the Otzar Hatorah school of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, two of his children and the young daughter of the Toulouse school’s principal. Four days before the March 19 attack in Toulouse, Merah killed three French soldiers at nearby Montauban.

The records on Merah’s telephone communications reportedly were declassified by the French counterterrorism 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, according to the Le Monde report.

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

The French media reported recently that French security services flagged Merah as a "person of interest" as early as 2009 because of contacts with radicals from the Toulouse area.

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