French TV airs interviews with Toulouse killer’s mother, sister

(JTA) — Mohammed Merah’s mother said in a first interview with French media that she did not understand what made her son kill three French soldiers and four Jews in Toulouse last year.

“I don’t understand any of it, he was a good and kind kid,” Zoulikha Aziri said in an interview broadcast Wednesday on France 3 TV. “Then he changed all at once, I don’t know why. He’s dead and took many people with him.” She said her son “never mentioned jihad.” Aziri also denied reports by other relatives that “there was talk of jihad” in the family.

The interview was part of a controversial 105-minute documentary titled “The Merah Affair: A shooter’s itinerary,” which the families of Merah’s victims unsuccessfully sought a court injunction to block.

Lawyers for the family of Jonathan Sander, the rabbi Merah killed along with two of Sander’s sons and another girl at a Jewish school on March 19, 2012, called the film “obscene.”

“There is a form of indecency and obscenity in giving the stage to the people closest to Merah,” Ariel Goldmann, one of the family’s attorneys, was quoted as telling BFMTV, a television station. Merah was killed three days after his attack at the school while trying to escape from his Toulouse home as police were preparing to raid the site.

Souad Merah, Mohammed’s sister, also was interviewed in Wednesday’s broadcast. She was questioned by French police last year after she was filmed praising her brother’s “bravery” and his actions. In November, one of Merah’s five siblings, Abdelghani Merah, said Mohammed Merah "grew up in an atmosphere of anti-Semitism."

The film, directed by Jean-Charles Doria, also included previously unpublished security camera footage from the days that preceded the shootings and an overview of failures that prevented authorities from catching Merah before the attacks. Merah had traveled abroad multiple times to receive military training in terrorist camps.

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