This morning, French police and intelligence officers reported that they had cornered the perpetrator of the Toulouse shooting in an apartment in the southern French city.
The shooter, identified as Mohammad Merah, is 24 year old French and Algerian national who reportedly spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan training with Al-Qaeda. He adheres to the Salafi branch of Islam and was arrested in Afghanistan for terrorist activity. Merah also claimed to be a lone-wolf, whose beliefs came from videos on the internet.
French police officers tracked Merah down using the internet and forensic evidence from the bullets found near the corpses of three French paratroopers killed last week as well as Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his two children Gabriel and Aryeh and Miriam Monsonego, another child, who were killed Monday morning. Initially, police suspected Neo-Nazi groups as being responsible, but information on in the internet directed them to Merah. On Wednesday morning, following reports that Merah was planning to kill another solider, French police surrounded the apartment building and began efforts to attempt to arrest Merah.
During the initial contact with police, Merah told negotiators that his cold-blooded murder of Rabbi Sandler and the three children was revenge for alleged Israeli murder of Palestinian children and to protest the French ban on the Burqa that was enacted last year. He also said that he only regretted not killing more parents and children in his attack early Monday morning on the Otzar HaTorah School. Merah also told police we was armed a small arsenal, including Kalashnikov rifles, Uzi submachine guns and several pistols.
Over the course of Wednesday the initial attempt to arrest Merah turned into a stand-off with Merah refusing to submit and claiming he wanted to die a martyr’s death with “his weapons in his hands”. He also reneged on previously agreed upon terms for his arrest and has not contacted French police negotiators since Wednesday night. Over the course of last night, French police worked to contact Merah unsuccessfully and then set off explosions around the apartment in order to force him to submit as well as cutting electricity and gas to the building. It is unknown if he is alive at this point time.