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Mohammed Merah: lone wolf killer or manipulated by those working to Islamize Europe?

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Mohammed Merah, 23, admitted murdering four Jews at the Ozar Hatorah school on March 19, 2012 in Toulouse, France and of three French army paratroopers during the week before. He died from two shots to his head and abdomen on March 22, 2012 after police stormed his home in Toulouse following a 32-hour stand-off.

The Killer has been described as a lone wolf. It is true that the killings were done by a single person – possibly with some assistance - but an examination of what happened shows that Mohammed Merah is a product of what terrorist organizations have learned about how to send out young people to kill.

Encouraging individuals to carry out terrorist attacks, without organizing them in cells, has become integral to the terrorist organization’s modus operandi, said Noman Benotman, a former jihadist with links to al-Qaida and who now works for the London-based Quilliam Foundation. "They are part of the overall al-Qaida strategy, and they are part of the instructions - or suggestions, if you will - for groups and individuals seeking guidance or inspiration," he said.

The killer was not an Islamic fanatic. He didn't go often to a mosque; he seemed more likely to meet people in obscure flats. A neighbor, Aisha, said, he was “two-faced,” or at least confused. “He can drink beer one minute,” a violation of Islamic law, “and go to a mosque the next minute.” Just a few weeks before the murders, Mohamed Merah partied at a nightclub, and an acquaintance noticed nothing out of the ordinary. Another friend said the former car body shop worker liked to talk about “cars, bikes, girls and sports.”

He was not an Islamic scholar, and he loved fast cars, night clubs, and sports. He was manipulated. He was recruited, motivated to become an Islamic hero, received some weapons training, and provided with the financial assistance to travel, rent a home, live a pleasurable life, and to obtain an apartment full of weapons.

The shootings began on March 11, 2012. A message was sent from the brother's IP address to set up an appointment to inspect a scooter that Ibn Ziaten, a 30-year-old staff sergeant in France's 1st Airborne Transportation Regiment of North African origin had advertised online on 24 February, 2012 and revealing in the ad his military status. Paratrooper Imad Ibn Ziaten was subsequently shot in the head at close range with a .45 caliber pistol, a method that was to become the suspect's signature.

Four days later, three more paratroopers from another regiment were gunned down as they used a cash machine being - two of them fatally - in the same fashion in a street in the nearby garrison town of Montauban. Two members of the 17th Airborne Combat Engineering Regiment, Corporal Abel Chennouf, 24, and Private Mohamed Legouad, 26, were killed. Both, like Sgt Ibn-Ziaten, were of North African origin. A third paratrooper, 28-year-old Corporal Loic Liber from the French overseas region of Guadeloupe, was left in a coma.

Arab soldiers are prized targets for groups like Al-Qaeda, which regards Muslims who fight for Western armies as traitors.

Then on Monday the shooter, still wearing a motorcycle helmet and riding a scooter, attacked the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, killing a rabbi, his toddler sons and a seven-year-old girl. "According to what he said during the siege, he wanted to kill another military man, but got there too late," said Mr. Squarcini, the head of the Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence. Jews were his secondary target and "Since he knew the area well, he improvised and attacked the Ozar Hatorah school."

The attack at the Ozar Hatorah School on March 19, 2012 claimed the lives of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 29, his 3-year-old and 6-year-old sons Gabriel and Arieh and 8-year-old Miriam Monsonego, daughter of school headmaster Rabbi Yaacov Monsonego.

Aaron, a 15-and-a-half year-old student was critically wounded but he is breathing unaided and can speak a little. The .45 round from the attacker's handgun passed through the boy's left arm and then right through his torso, skimming his heart and puncturing his lungs and stomach.

Mohammed Merah had a history of failure in his first 20 years and suicidal tendencies

Mohammed Merah came from a problematic family situation and did not do well in school. He was born Oct. 10, 1988 in Toulouse to an Algerian mother, was one of five children, including three boys. His mother now lives in Le Mirail, one of Toulouse’s poorest neighborhoods,

His parents divorced when he was five years old, his father returned to Algeria in 2008. His mother who had no profession found it difficult to raise five children on her own and Merah was a foster child between the age of six and 13 (1994-2001). His lawyer said that his mother “barely had any influence over him”. “His mother couldn’t control him, his father was totally absent, his sister … also told me that she couldn’t exercise any influence over him,” the lawyer said.

He received an irregular education as he changed schools on a yearly basis. Eventually he ended up at a vocational college where he was trained to be a physical education trainer. He found employment in his profession, but the robbery charge put an end to that.

His lawyer, Christian Etelin, said he knew Merah since he was about 17, and described his life as typical for many teenagers and young men in poor French housing projects who get involved in criminal activity.

He reportedly carried out 18 minor crimes, some of which involved violence, while he was being monitored. “His thing was petty theft," said Etelin. Merah was in prison from December 2007 to September 2009 for aggravated robbery (a mugging), he was 20-years-old.

The French news website Le Point on Thursday published Merah's psychiatric report which was filed before French courts at the time. The report written by Alain Pénin—a court-appointed psychologist who examined Mr. Merah in January 2009 —reveals that Merah attempted suicide by hanging and was committed in a psychiatric ward for 13 days as a result.

In the second part of the report the psychiatrist describes Merah's personality. He was a "courteous, correct and talkative" young man. That fits in with statements made by Merah's friends who said he was "calm, gentle and loved by everyone."

According to the expert he was of "average intelligence and his potential had been reduced by his troubled school history. The expert noted that Merah exhibited "neurotic fragility due to the departure of his father and lack of supervision on his mother's part."

Yet he also wrote that Merah's "mood is stable" but that he "recently had dark thoughts," and spoke of "suicidal intentions."

Then the report then goes on to address the question of religion: Mohamed Merah told the doctor that his main hobby in detention was to read the Koran, pray and observe the Ramadan fast. Mr. Pénin said Mr. Merah showed no sign that he had become a radical.

“There was a break” from the youth he knew before his imprisonment, lawyer Etelin said. “I supposed when he got out of prison that he was on the path of radicalization because while in jail there are other inmates who are very religious.”

He “occasionally visited” his mother, who had recently moved away from the neighbourhood he was brought up in. He allegedly reproached his mother for the divorce of his parents, according to neighbours.

Merah accepts an Islamic mission and has some training in firearms

Merah apparently found an Islamic mission in life – but not a religious mission - while in prison and was helped to move toward it by outside assistance. Upon his release from prison in 2009, Merah journeyed to Afghanistan in 2010. He somehow received the financial means to make an extensive tour of Muslim countries – possibly with the help of his older brother Abdelkader. The head of the French intelligence agency DCRI Bernard Squarcini told the French newspaper Le Monde that Mohamed Merah was held by police in Jerusalem during his visit to Israel in 2010, after he was found in possession of a knife, but was released shortly after his detainment. Squarcini said that Merah visited several other Middle Eastern countries during that trip, including Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Afghanistan.

It can be assumed that he was told whom to contact in the different countries. Without these referrals, he would have been considered a suspicious person and not given access to those belonging to terrorist organizations – indeed he would have probably been killed as a possible spy.

This first trip does not provide him with much training as Merah was picked up by chance in a road check by Afghan police in Kandahar, and may have briefly been in U.S. custody before being turned over to the French, who flew him home. According to Francois Molins, the public prosecutor in charge of the case this first trip to the central Asian country only lasted a few days.

After a 2010 trip to Afghanistan, French agents investigated Merah but found none of the usual danger signs associated with organized extremism, said Squarcini. "No ideological activism, no visiting mosques," he said.

A neighbor, identified only by a pseudonym as Aisha, told the French daily Le Telegram that Merah had tried in 2010 to recruit her then-15 year old son for the “worldwide Jihad.” The woman and her son lived in the same neighborhood as Merah in Toulouse. She said that Merah had been friendly with her son, and on one occasion took him into a car, and played for him a CD with Islamist preachers urging listeners to take part in Jihad.

Merah then took her son to his apartment – the same one the terrorist is now holed up in – and showed him a giant Quran, and showed him Al-Qaeda produced propaganda films, all the while holding a sword over him. The films showed scenes that were very difficult for the 15 year old to stomach, including women being shot in the head and men being strangled to death, the mother recalled.

“My son called me and begged me to get him out of there. In the end we succeeded. He was held there from 5 in the afternoon until midnight,” Aisha said.

“I complained to the police twice about Mohammed Merah and tried to follow up several times” - but to no avail, she said. This angered Merah who “He came to our house, threatened me, and eventually hit me. He said I was an atheist, and that I would have to 'pay' like the French would.”

Two days later, she said, Merah attacked her in public, and beat her son and daughter, who had intervened to protect her. Le Télégramme also reports how Merah allegedly went into the street outside the woman’s house wearing military fatigues, brandishing a sword, and shouting “I’m with Al-Qaida”. “No one stopped to get involved,” she said. He told me that he and his friends would come back to take away my son and that the only thing that would remain with me would be my eyes to cry,” she said.

Apparently to obtain training in firearms, Merah returned to the area on the Pakistan- Afghanistan border in 2011. This visit was cut short after three months when he contracted hepatitis A and returned to France in mid-October, the prosecutor said.

During the standoff, Merah told police he was a “mujahedeen” and that he had been trained by Al-Qaeda in the Pakistani-Afghanistan region in Waziristan," a wild, mountainous and lawless region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Waziristan is a tribal area which is known as a haven for Islamist insurgents -- including Al-Qaeda militants -- connected to Taliban guerrillas fighting in both countries. "He explained how... he had even been suggested to carry out a suicide mission and refused, but agreed to carry out a general mission to commit an attack in France.

Ahmed Marwat, who identified himself as a spokesman for the TTP's Jandola faction, told Reuters that "Mohamed Merah trained with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan."

In November 2011, when Merah returned from a second trip to the region, this time to Pakistan, French anti-terrorism investigators questioned him. "He came with a USB [drive] that contained photos of his trips," Bernard Squarcini, head of France's national intelligence agency, told Le Monde Friday. Mr. Merah described a "touristic" visit, Mr. Squarcini said.

The head of France's DCRI domestic intelligence agency, Bernard Squarcini, said Merah did not frequent the usual training centres -- where spies might have reported his presence -- but instead was trained by a single individual.

French Interior Minister Clauide Gueant said Merah was part of a 15-strong group of fundamentalists, who followed Islamic fundamentalist Salafist ideology in Toulouse. Gueant said the Salafist group to which Merah belonged had no official name. As a Salafi, Merah is in good company as the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, al Sheikh is the leading religious figure of the Saudi-based international network of Salafi Muslims. The Salafis are also very important in Egypt with their political parties receiving 22% of the total parliamentary seats in the last election.

His last conviction came Feb. 24, 2012 for a minor motorcycle accident and driving without a permit, his lawyer said. He was sentenced to a month in prison, and was supposed to appear before a judge to have the sentence finalized and start serving April 3 or 4.

Finally, questions remained about the ability of Mohamed Merah with his low income to finance alone, arms purchases, rentals of homes, a comfortable life, funding trips abroad and keeping expensive vehicles. Merah worked in auto-repair shops but failed to keep a stable job. Nonetheless, he managed to live well.

He was unemployed and was claiming state benefits worth €475 a month. Nevertheless, he amassed an illegal weapons' arsenal that gun experts say was worth at least €10-15,000. He had at least eight guns, including at least three Colt .45 pistols, the U.S. army's sidearm of choice during the Second World War, a 9mm Sten submachine gun, a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a pump-action shotgun, an Uzi machine pistol, as well as a Colt .357 Python revolver.

Francois Molins, a Paris-based prosecutor, said that Merah had told how he had funded his collection. "He explained that he got his hands on all these weapons because he had pulled off break-ins and burglaries that provided him with money (claimed he had amassed about €20,000) through robberies to buy weapons and ammunition."

But this would have been hard to do given the limited time he had after leaving prison and the time he was abroad. Since he believed he was being monitored by authorities after he made a visit to Afghanistan and his record of crime, he would have been careful not to be seen as returning to crime. It is much more likely that he received financial assistance from his Islamic connections and was probably also given the weapons.

Merah was motivated to become an Islamic Hero

Merah apparently became motivated to become a warrior knight of Islam. The prison psychiatrist wrote that he exhibited "polar narcissism" noting his slicked back hair and Merah's admission that he was interested in personal grooming and designer clothes.

He told police investigators that he was proud to have “brought France to its knees” but regretted not killing more people. The Internet was his friend. "I have changed my life . . . on video," said one of his last tweets (in French) during the siege.

In executing his attacks, Merah did everything by the jihadist textbook. He made sure he would die a martyr's death that would be witnessed on television screens around the world. He murdered with a video camera strapped to his body, making him star and director of his own epic. He told journalists his videos would soon be uploaded.

Merah acted on the role of a knight of Islam for the video camera. During the March 11 shooting of a paratrooper in Toulouse, he can be heard saying "You kill my brothers, now I'm killing you." In the March 15 attack, when he killed two other paratroopers in nearby Montauban, after the attack he drives off on a scooter shouting "Allahu Akbar!" (God is Greatest!).

In the attack at the Jewish school Monday morning, Merah held a little girl by her hair while he paused to reload his gun. He then shot her. In a recording found in his apartment he tells another victim, a soldier: "You kill my brothers, I kill you." This is theater.

He was divided between wanting to increase his death toll and publicizing his acts by filming his deeds and bragging about them.

He rang the news room of the TV station France 24 at 1am, two hours before French police surrounded his home in the south-western city of Toulouse. Speaking to FRANCE 24’s senior editor Ebba Kalondo for 11 minutes in “clear French”, he said that he was affiliated to al Qaeda in France and that he was the gunman who murdered three paratroopers in Toulouse and nearby Montauban in two separate incidents the previous week. He said his actions were part of a “much larger campaign” and that the country could expect further attacks in Lyon, Marseille and Paris.

Kalondo explained that Merah sounded in his early 20s and had a “slight accent.” She added that the caller was very articulate and calm: "He wasn't at all agitated, nor excited. Very, very calm, very convinced by what he was saying, very polite. He didn't stop saying it was just the beginning."

He gave graphic and precise information about the killings that would have been known only to the shooter and to police investigating the crime. Details included the number of bullets fired and the fact that he had lost the magazine from one of his handguns at the site of the second shooting on March 15, in which two paratroopers were killed.

He clearly wanted to be heard and took video of all the killings and would put it onto the internet. The Internet was his friend. "I have changed my life . . . on video," said one of his last tweets (in French) during the siege. The French interior minister Mr Gueant also said that Merah had been "talking a lot" during the police siege of his home.

The role of his brother and family

His older brother Abdelkader Merah , 29, was the Islamic fanatic in the family and probably the main influence on the thinking of Mohammed Merah. He was known locally for his radical religious ideology. He made several trips to Cairo, where he stayed in a religious school, according to the French media. There he developed contacts with Salafist groups. Salafis have an ultraconservative approach to Islam.

A neighbor called Aisha described Abdelkader Merah as the real “brains” behind the Merah Jihad operation. “He was the one who was always traveling abroad” to organize missions, she said.

Abdelkader Merah, 29, his mother and girlfriend were placed under "precautionary detention" after the murders and possibly actively involved with the preparations for the killings. Police and prosecution officials have said that traces of what could be an explosive material were found in Abdelkader Merah’s car.

He told cops: "I am very proud of my brother. I regret nothing for him and approve of what he did." On March 24, 2012, police spokesman Christophe Crepin told reporters that Abdelkader is believed to have “furnished [means] and acted as an accomplice” in Mohammed Merah’s attacks.

The Influence of Olivier Qorel and his circle of jihadists known as the Toulouse group

French authorities believe that Abdelkader was involved in a militant, jihadist network known as the Toulouse group consisting of a group of apprentice jihadists from the Ariege and the city of Toulouse. The Toulouse group, which brought together young fundamentalists of North African descent, was formed in around 2006, with the stated aim of targeting American interests in France and sending recruits to Iraq.

Shaykh Olivier Qorel, a French citizen in his 60’s of Syrian origin was the spiritual leader of the jihadi network based in the Ariege region south of Toulouse, and encouraged them to fight in Iraq. Qorel emigrated to France in 1973 and became a citizen in 1983. He was dubbed "The White Emir" by French media because of his fair hair and blonde beard.

One of the Toulouse group who developed a close involvement with the Merah family was Sabri Essid. He traveled from France to Syria via Turkey at the urging of Qorel, who told him; ‘’You will meet your girlfriend again in paradise, but before then sell your car and settle your debts’’ (Le Figaro, October 15, 2007).

Essid and another Frenchman were running an al Qaeda safe house in Syria for fighters going to Iraq. They were captured by Syrian intelligence officials in December 2006 as they prepared to cross the border into Iraq and deported to France in February 2007.

Sabri Essid was one of eight men from the Toulouse region of France arrested in 15 February 2007, and in a 2009 trial that came to be known in the press as "Brothers for Iraq," was convicted of “criminal conspiracy for terrorist purposes.” He was given a five year sentence with one year suspended and additional terms of three years probation on July 9, 2009 by a Paris magistrate’s court for their efforts to support or join the jihad in Iraq (AFP, July 9, 2009). Qorel was not convicted of any offence. While Abdelkader had been implicated in the network he was not charged.

The public prosecutor said the defendants “hide behind the argument of the fight against a war of occupation,” though this is just a veil to “conceal their hatred of unbelievers” (La Depeche, June 19).

In 2008, Mohamed Merah obtained a permit to visit Essid Sabri in jail. The police noted at that time, he brought him money. Essid’s father had later married Merah’s mother, Zoulika Aziri, a union brokered, French police believe, by Mohamed Merah himself.

Olivier Corel admitted to The Daily Telegraph that he had been visited in recent weeks on at least one occasion by Merah’s older brother, Abdelkader. Wearing a chequered head scarf that he used to obscure the lower part of his face, and sporting a long beard, he said that Abdelkader Merah had visited him a few weeks before the events of March 2012 to discuss a divorce and Islamist religious law.

The importance to Mohamed Merah of the organization Forsane Alizza, or "Knights of Glory

Forsane Alizza, or "Knights of Glory" was one organization that clearly influenced Merah. He signed his last tweet while under siege by the police as "Mohamed Merah-Forsane Alizza." And his tweeter account ID featured a black knight on a horse holding high the flag of jihad which is also a symbol of the organization.

Forsane Alizza is a France-based jihadist media organization that was established in 2010 by a French Muslim in his 30s named Mohammed Achamlane from Nantes, living in the Loire-Atlantique, who is of Algerian descent and is also known as Abu Hamza (noble lion). It was ordered dissolved in January 2012 by French authorities because they found it was a group that may be described as private militia because it offers its most active members actual training, including in hand-to-hand combat, shooting paintballs, simulated hostage-taking, and religious indoctrination.

The ban made little difference, as content was uploaded to new sites. A website using the Forsane Alizza alias is still active—and registered with a domain name registrar and Web hosting company based in the state of Washington.

Mohamed Merah’s description of his motives was a copy of the same list on the Forsane Alizza web site. Speaking to FRANCE 24’s senior editor Ebba Kalondo two hours before the police arrived, he said that he carried out the attacks because of two motives:

1) in protest against France’s decision to ban women from wearing the full Islamic veil, which was an affront to Islam and to Muslims around the world

2) to protest France’s military presence in Afghanistan.

He said “the victims were chosen at random” and that anyone “bolstering the operation in Afghanistan” or law officials involved in banning the veil or “working for the Sarkozy machine” was a target.

3) He then added a third motive when asked why he had killed four Jewish people – including three children – at a school in Toulouse on March 19, he said: “The Jews kill our brothers and sisters in Palestine.”

A look at the list of principal targets given by Forsane Alizza is identical to what Merah said:

1) The French military, which is portrayed as destroying Muslim lands as part of a Western conspiracy to destroy Islam.

2) Jews, Jewish institutions, and Israel, which are blamed for the global persecution of Muslims.

3) Perceived anti-Muslim prejudice, which it argues the French government has officially sanctioned. The general demand is then made that the Muslims (re)gain “the right to practice their authentic religion such as the withdrawal of the despicable laws against the hijab [headscarf] and niqab [face veil] in public and in private.” The group also claimed that a neo-Nazi attack on a mosque was allowed to go ahead by French the ruling political elites.

According to its own website, FA is a Salafi organisation with the primary objectives of proselytising for ‘jihad’ and the establishment of a caliphate, ‘support[ing] the mujahideen everywhere’. They disavow democratic systems and elections. The Web site is laced with anti-Semitic material and postings supporting organizations that are widely deemed to be terrorist groups, including the Afghan Taliban.

The group wishes to create a fortress for Islam – and this can only be achieved through battle: “The establishment of tawhid throughout the world is done with the sword.” The group strongly emphasizes that the only way to establish a good society for the Muslims is, and should only be, through combat and physical struggle, and not through books and learning.."O you men, the battle is engaged, calls for jihad have been launched, the gates of Paradise are opened. If you are not warriors on horseback, stand aside and make room for the women to lead the fray.”

Followers and group members are recruited through the Web site with messages similar to this one: "Our organization is growing and we need manpower ‘fissabililah’ (‘for the path of Allah’). We are looking for all kinds of skills, but especially for soldiers! So if you enjoy martial arts and are quick to respond when we contact you, then your profile interests us, inshallah.

Indeed, action has been taken by Forsane Alizza on more than one occasion. Usually, this action takes the form of street “demonstrations” that devolve into violence. For example on June 12, 2010, members of the group, their faces hidden, urged passers-by to stop going into McDonald's in Limoges, because the fast food brand(also) serves Israel. Subsequently, Mohammad Achamlane was convicted of having filmed the scene and posted the video online to attract attention – and more members.

In the video that they themselves made of the incident, you can see them invade the restaurant and harass its customers, shouting things like - press here:

A translation of their words follows:

Do you know the name of Mcdonald’s CEO?Jack M. Greenberg.

Jack M. Greenberg is also the director of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry of metropolitan Chicago. According to “Chicago Jewish Community Online” (website of metropolitan Chicago’s Jews United Fund), the company McDonalds, whose HQ is just outside of Chicago, is a major corporate partner of the Jews United Fund and the Jewish Federation.

Through its Israel Committee, the United Jewish Fund “works to maintain economic, military and diplomatic support, checking media coverage of Israel and, if necessary, reacting to it.”

Kiryat Gat, maybe you know it from the Boycott Intel campaign, is built on territory stolen from the Palestinians: the villages of Iraq al Manshiya and Al-Faluja, whose victims were the victims of ethnic cleansing in 1949. Via its “Partnership with Israel” programme, the Jews United fund invests 1.3 million dollars annually

30,000 restaurants in 121 countries.




Reminder for Muslims: More than 2,000 imams have said the boycott is obligatory!

In addition, the leader of Forsane Alizza (‘Knights of Pride’), Mohamed Achamlane from Nantes (nicknamed ‘Brain’ on the internet), appeared in court for a hearing on Sept. 27, 2010 for inciting discrimination and racial and religious hatred. He’s accused of hate speech and of inciting to burn the penal code during a demonstration Sept 17, 2010.

On Sept. 18, 2011, around 30 blocked an El Al counter at Roissy airport in France, harassing passengers and shouting ‘Death to Jews’ and ‘Death to Israel’. They were said to be members of the ‘Islamist’ and pro-Palestinian groups Forsane Alizza and Euro-Palestine. For about 20 minutes, the Muslims prevented passengers from boarding. According to an eyewitness, “a horde of savages terrorised, threatened and intimidated passengers”.

The anti-Israel climate in Europe

Mohammed Merah may have been influenced by the demonization of the Jewish state in Europe. History teaches that mass demonization can all too easily lead to the dehumanization of the group or people or nation that is being demonized. From there it is only one single step to the belief that murder itself can be justified.

Lies about Israeli actions in Gaza have been peddled, and therefore legitimized, for years by the media and Muslim leaders in France and across Europe. Europe's Muslim leaders have whipped up the kind of hysteria against Israel in which the sort of attack that took place was always likely to take place.

It's not just the Muslim organizations of course. Not only are the media and ‘progressive’ commentators in the west desperate to sanitize Islamic terrorism and genocidal incitement; they also join in. Mainstream media outlets across the continent have added a further layer of legitimacy to this lethal ideology with papers and magazines such as the Guardian and the New Statesman engaged in what is little better than a hate campaign against the Jewish state. And even Parliamentarians across Europe have far too often joined in the hate fest

A deranged belief that the Israelis deliberately kill Palestinian children is not only pumped out daily by the Arab and Muslim world inciting their people to hate Jews and to murder them as a holy act; not only do western progressives ignore this incitement and pretend instead that Islamic terrorism arises from legitimate ‘grievances’; these same western progressives themselves pump out precisely the same lies and incitement - and then suggest that the deliberate murder of Jewish innocents is the moral equivalent of attempts by Israel to prevent the slaughter of yet more innocents.

The Future of Hatred in France

France considers itself to be a secular and liberal society. Race, color, and creed are matters of indifference: as long as you speak good French, know how to eat, don’t raise separate culture issues, and accept common citizenship. French secularism, in French, laïcité, is a core concept in the French constitution denoting the absence of religious involvement in government affairs as well as absence of government involvement in religious affairs.

As a consequence of this secularization, as of 11 April 2011, it became illegal to wear a face-covering veil or other mask in public places such as the street, shops, museums, public transportation, and parks. The ban therefore limits the more extremist Islamic hiding of women’s faces through use of the niqāb and the burqa, a full-body covering, if it covers the face.

Several studies reveal that France seems to be, among the Western countries, the one where Muslims integrate the best and feel the most for their country. French Muslims also have the most positive opinions about their fellow citizens of different faiths.

As of 2010, according to the French Government there are between 5 to 6 millions Muslims in metropolitan France. The government counted all those people in France who came here from countries with a dominant Muslim population, or whose parents did. Only 33% of those 5 to 6 million people (2 million) said they were practicing believers.

The United States Department of State placed it at roughly 10%, while two 2007 polls estimated it at about 3% of the total population.

In Toulouse where the murders occurred, about 20,000 Jews live— its mayor is Jewish — and some 500,000 Jews live in France, many of them Sephardim, making it the third largest Jewish community in the world, after Israel and the U.S.

Most anti-Semitic attacks carried out in France over the past decade, however, were perpetrated by Muslims, according to a report from the Organization for the Defense of Jewish Communities in France. The group reported 389 attacks on Jews in France in 2011.

Dr. Simcha Epstein, an anti-Semitism expert, spoke to Maariv and said the rise in Muslim attacks was new, and followed decades in which most attacks were perpetrated by members of the extreme right. Violence is particularly bad in schools, where Jewish students are often targeted and teachers are unable to exert control, he said.

Muslim youngsters in Europe are moving towards radicalization, Islamization, and a desire to change their country’s identity to conform to Islam. In the south of France, Muslim youths with roots in the Middle East have regularly attacked Jews and Jewish institutions in recent decades

The previous murder of a Jew occurred in 2006. Ilan Halimi was a young French Jewish man kidnapped on 21 January 2006 by a gang called "the Gang of Barbarians" (Gang des Barbares) led by Youssouf Fofana (see picture above). On 20 January, Halimi was lured by an attractive seventeen year old girl named Yalda, of French-Iranian origin, to an apartment block in the Parisian banlieues. There Halimi was overwhelmed by a youth gang and kept prisoner for twenty-four days.

They subsequently tortured him, over a period of three weeks, resulting in his death. They urinated on him, kept him naked, scratched him, cut him with knives, and finally poured gasoline on him and set him on fire. A total of 27 people were accused as implicated in the crime and were tried for kidnapping and murder in 2009. Gang leader Youssouf Fofana, born 1980 in Paris to immigrants from Ivory Coast, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

The murder was motivated by anti-Semitism and money. Police attributed to the banlieues' gang subculture a "poisonous mentality that designates Jews as enemies. Members of the gang confessed that they believed all Jews to be rich and it motivated them to target several Jews. This starkly contrasted with the reality of the Halimi family's working-class circumstances; they and many other poor and working-class Jews inhabited the same lower-class banlieue as the attackers.

Officials within the Jewish community have no illusions: French Jews and Muslims are deeply divided. "Don't tell me French Muslims appreciate Jews - 50 percent of them hate Jews," Rabbi Michel Sarfati told Haaretz on Thursday. The rabbi created the Jewish-Muslim friendship group and has traveled across France for several years preaching moderation.

"Many hate Jews because extremist imams denigrate Jews in their sermons. They say we're Israel's puppets.

Another member of the Jewish-Muslim friendship association was alarmed by Muslims who admire the killer. "To them Mohamed Merah is a hero. Unfortunately, that view isn't as rare as you'd think," he said.

Western officials have been concerned for years about Muslim militants with European citizenship visiting northwestern Pakistan, possibly training for missions that could include terror attacks in Europe where they would act as “lone wolves” or on the orders of others. In 2010 alone, dozens were believed to be there.

Approximately 85 Frenchmen have been training with the Pakistani Taliban in the North Waziristan tribal area for the past three years, according to the intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Most of the men have dual nationality with France and North African countries.

The Frenchmen operate under the name Jihad-e-Islami and are being trained to use explosives and other weapons at camps near the town of Miran Shah and in the Datta Khel area, the officials said. They are led by a French commander who goes by the name Abu Tarek. Five of the men returned to France in January 2011 to find new recruits, according to the officials. It's unclear whether Merah was among that group.

On the other hand, by any standard, the record of the French intelligence services has been impressive to date, aided by some of Europe's toughest anti-terrorism laws. More than 200 people in France have been convicted of terrorism-related offenses since 2001. A French counter-terrorism source told CNN in 2010 that the security services had established a large network of informants within France's Muslim communities - but cautioned that it had proved much more difficult to recruit informers among the younger generation of French Muslims.

Further Reading:

Report shows a 16.5% drop in anti-Semitism in France for the year 2011

Georges Picquart fought hatred during the Dreyfus Affair

Cannes “Nazi von Trier” Aftermath

France Names Holocaust Victims

Today in History: In 1171, Jews accused of ritual murder in French City of Blois

France Shuts Down Egyptian Anti-Semitic Broadcasts

Jean-Marie Le Pen

French comedian teams up with Iran to ridicule the Holocaust in new film

Robert Faurisson

The Dreyfus Affair