Standoff in Toulouse: Mohamed Merah is Dead

Bump and Update: Multiple French News sites are now reporting Mohamed Merah is dead. It's been confirmed by police. Three police officers were wounded, one seriously.

This comes after a long, continuous and loud blast of what sounded like automatic weapons. Police now say Merah fired at them and they fired back in self-defense. Apparently, he started shooting at them while in the bathroom and then jumped out the bathroom window. There are even reports he may have died from the fall rather than the gunfight. An autopsy will be performed. Added: He didn't die from the fall but a shot to the head as he jumped from the window. [More....]

"The examination of the body shows that he was shot in the head and that he was wearing a bullet-proof vest," Mr Molins said, "and had a gun covered by a pair of jeans."

"Material to make Molotov cocktails were found on his balcony....Mr Molins said a Colt 45 handgun was found next to his body, and he estimated that Merah had fired 30 bullets as the commandos broke in.

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant gave a statement:
He said the police decided to storm the building after the gunman had threatened to kill police and refused to surrender late last night. Describing the raid itself, he said

"We sent in special cameras to be able to see where he was but we could not locate him. It was when we were able to locate him in the bathroom that he came out shooting madly at everybody." The police had never seen anything like this kind of violence and the RAID police had to protect themselves. Merah jumped out of the window and continued to shoot. He was found dead on the ground.

Earlier: Sounds like the raid is coming to an end. Watching the live feed, the scene resembles a search and rescue mission that has turned into a recovery mission. There are no visible guns on the police (the RAID guys are reportedly inside Merah's apartment) and rescue workers are milling around. People are walking and riding their bikes right through the area on their way to work. There are a lot of firetrucks, firemen, and vans. The atmosphere is too calm to indicate any kind of crisis is ongoing. They just brought something out on a stretcher and loaded it into a van but it didn't look like a body. What else do you put on a stretcher? Explosives? Now the firefighters seem to be leaving.

Update 2:00 a.m. MT (Thursday): Sounds like Merah may have killed himself during the night. Interior Minister Claude Gueant says he is surprised they haven't heard from him despite launching regular grenades with blinding lights and flashbangs.

"We have a priority, it can go, to deliver him to justice, and then take him alive: we hope he is still alive," said Claude Gueant to RTL. "We heard two shots you do not know what it is," he added.

This is reminding me of the standoff on a Miami houseboat with Andrew Cunanan years ago. Cunanan was wanted for killing designer Gianni Versace and several others. Even though it only lasted four hours, it was very intense, the whole nation was watching, and it ended when Cunanan killed himself (althouh it took police another several hours to announce they had found a body -- they claimed to have missed it the first look-through-- and even more hours to announce it the body was that of Cunanan. )

The standoff began about 4 p.m. local time, when police special forces--complete with helicopters, boats and dogs--descended en masse on the shuttered houseboat, 41 blocks north of Versace's mansion. During the siege, police fired eight rounds of tear gas or "flash-bang" grenades into the boat. They shouted "Come out! Come out!" Eventually, eight officers--huddled behind shields-- stormed the boat.

At 8:03 p.m., before police entered the houseboat, some witnesses heard a muffled shot from inside. That might have been the precise moment that the man believed to be Cunanan took his life and ended a dragnet that galvanized the nation. In the immediate aftermath of the assault and for nearly three more hours, police indicated that no one had been found inside the house.

At least the French are trying to get Merah alive. I remember with Cunanan, right after he was found dead, some law enforcement agent (or maybe it was the Mayor of Miami) said "Justice has been done." Justice is not done when a suspect kills himself, even one who's confessed. Justice is done when you bring someone to answer charges in a court of law and they are convicted after a fair trial.

Update: 1:00 a.m. MT (Thursday): Morning in France, and things are still at a stalemate:

7.30. "He is very determined" Mohamed Merah has closed all negotiations since last night. It "seems a very closed posture. He does not want to go. And he seems very determined," said a source close to the investigation told AFP. The gunman had hinted that he would go early in the afternoon and late evening on Wednesday. Since then and throughout the night, Raid initiated a psychological war of attrition before the young man's refusal to surrender.

Update: 12:08 am MT (Thurs): Things seem to be accelerating:

6:40. Pressure is mounting Two shots in less than five minutes apart were heard by journalists. The war of attrition continues.

Update: 7:00 MT: New explosions. Here's how one illuminated the buildings in the area. Authorities are clearly trying to take Merah alive. I wonder if he'll decide to go out in a blaze of glory rather than just shoot himself or surrender.

There are some reports of exchanged gunfire and other reports of police use of stun grenades. The standoff is now in its 20th hour. Seems like a long time, until I remember Ruby Ridge (12 days) and Waco (51 days.)

Bump and Update: France2 has posted the first photos of Toulouse shooting suspect Mohammed Merah. There are reports police have launched an assault on the building, explosions were heard, but nothing since. Either it's over and he's dead or they are trying to smoke him out. Police now say the assault hasn't started yet, the explosions were designed to intimidate Merah who "seems to have changed his mind and does not want to surrender." I wonder if Merah has a TV and is following developments, so police are just releasing statements they want him to hear. I also wonder why they didn't cut the power off to the building. It really seems unlikely he'll come out alive.


Original Post

The standoff in Toulouse continues, where police have surrounded the apartment building of 23 year old Mohamed Merah the motorbiking suspect who police believe is responsible for the killing of three students and a teacher at the Jewish School and three soldiers. Here's a photo of the apartment building.

The latest is that he has told police he will surrender this evening.

Police surrounded his apartment around 3 am and began negotiating with him through the front door. He told police he acted alone and that he was upset at the treatment of Palestinian children and actions of the French army.

French officials say he claimed to have trained with al Qaeda and has ties to jihadist and salafist groups.

There were reports he was affiliated with a group named Forsame Alizza, which the French Government ordered to disband in January. The group is independent and not part of al Qaeda, although it sympathizes with al Qaeda's world view. One of the group's primary concerns is fighting French Islamophobia.

He is a french national. His mother is Algerian. His mother was brought to the scene but did not attempt to get him to surrender as she said he wouldn't listen to her. His brother has been arrested.

The police say he intended to kill again this morning. He was identified through the IP address of his brother, from the investigation of the shooter of the off duty soldier 10 days ago.

Oddly, even though the suspect was armed and allegedly shot at police, wounding two or three, they didn't evacuate the other residents for a few hours, until after negotiations had broken down. Merah reportedly has not made any demands.

Reports that he escaped from a prison in Kandahar have turned out to be false, according to the official Kandahar Media Office's twitter feed. His lawyer from an earlier traffic case says he showed no signs of violence and did not seem fanatical when he represented him, but that was before he went to Afghanistan. His friends say he was not militant and was at a nightclub just days ago.

Forsane Alizza was a small group with an active web presence with lots of videos. The website is now down, but its Twitter feed is still up. It's last tweet was on March 12. Interesting tidbit: One of the people it follows on Twitter is AnonymouSabu, aka the FBI. It doesn't seem like Sabu followed them back.

Here's a screengrab of Forsane Alizza's website I took last night before it went down. This is their Twitter graphic. No matter what page you clicked on, this video screen came up. This is what appeared on the website after it went down.

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  • Display: Sort:
    "Widely speculated" ?!?! (5.00 / 0) (#16)
    by Yman on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 07:49:20 AM EST
    "fervently hoped for"???


    As it turns out (1.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 07:17:21 AM EST

    As it turns out the widely speculate and fervently hoped for neo-Nazis were not involved.  


    who was fervently hoping for neo-nazis? (5.00 / 4) (#15)
    by Dadler on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 07:43:35 AM EST
    i get the attempt at satire, but that has to be based in SOME kind of marginal reality.  seriously, find me anything that evidences ANY person on the planet was excited and hopeful that it would be neo-nazis behind this?  

    when school shootings happen in this country, do you fervently hope it's a drugged and dreadlocked planned parenthood employee gone ballistic?


    And the Fervent neo-Nazis... (5.00 / 0) (#19)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 08:39:21 AM EST
    ...breathe a sigh in relief and crank up the victimization meter, because you know, every time a school is shot-up they are the first to be suspect.

    Seriously AAA, you starting to not be able to distinguish ultra-right wing propaganda from reality, it's unhealthy man.


    "Widely speculated"? (5.00 / 0) (#17)
    by Yman on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 07:50:13 AM EST
    "fervently hoped for"???

    Did you see something on Drudge?



    By who? (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 08:38:17 AM EST
    Is this poor neo-Nazi burden?

    Neo-Nazis (none / 0) (#21)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 09:00:27 AM EST

    Neo-Nazis are 100% safe politically correct villains.  And well deserved at that.

    However, after the Norway shootings and unlike the current shooter you did not see any concern for a feared backlash against the ideology of the killer.



    I have no idea what you are talking about (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 09:04:29 AM EST
    I would be worried if you did understand. (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by observed on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 09:08:22 AM EST
    Read (none / 0) (#25)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 09:30:29 AM EST
    I'm Guessing... (none / 0) (#28)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:09:16 AM EST
    ...using AAA history that something to do with Nazi's being left wing something or another.  He doesn't post anything that doesn't slam the left with never-ending sources that no one has ever heard of.

    The obvious reason (none / 0) (#26)
    by Yman on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 09:44:53 AM EST
    In the Breivik shootings, no one feared a backlash against neo-Nazis as a group because, by definition, neo-Nazis are racists who advocate violence and genocide.  Muslims, OTOH, are not.  The "feared backlash" you speak of is not against Muslim terrorists, but Muslims as a whole.  These fears are (IMO) well-founded, given how certain people promote fear of Muslims as a whole based on the acts of a few extremists.

    But if you want to continue with this silly analogy, let's see a few articles showing a fear of backlash against Muslim terrorists, as opposed to a backlash against an entire religion.


    Backlashes (none / 0) (#27)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 09:59:58 AM EST

    These feared backlashes are yet to appear.  It may say more about the fearful than anything else.

    At lest in France at least by body count the Jews have more to fear than the Muslims



    All of which ignores the point (none / 0) (#31)
    by Yman on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:41:06 AM EST
    These feared backlashes are yet to appear.  It may say more about the fearful than anything else.

    ... that, whether or not those fears are manifested, there's a logical reason for fear of a backlash against Muslims but not neo-Nazis.  But maybe you're right .... the fact that there hasn't been any anti-Muslim backlash means "it may say more about the fearful than anything else".  He//, after all ... it's already been several hours.

    At lest in France at least by body count the Jews have more to fear than the Muslims

    So what?  That's supposed to mean that fears of a backlash against innocent Muslims are unfounded?

    Pffftttt ....


    It means (none / 0) (#32)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:56:12 AM EST

    It means that real backlashes (including murder) against Jews seem to hold little interest in the prestige press compared imaginary ones against Muslims.

    For which religion(s) in France is wearing a religious symbol more or less likely to result in threats of violence or actual violence?



    Do you think that maybe ... (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Yman on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 11:37:50 AM EST
    It means that real backlashes (including murder) against Jews seem to hold little interest in the prestige press compared imaginary ones against Muslims.

    ... just maybe, the reason the "prestige press" is discussing a potential backlash against Muslims is because this story is currently a heee-YOOOOGE story, as opposed to an imaginary story about a Jewish terrorist killing seven people and injuring many more - including school children?

    Yeah, ... crazy, huh?

    For which religion(s) in France is wearing a religious symbol more or less likely to result in threats of violence or actual violence?

    I have no idea, and neither do you .... which is why you phrased it as a question.  Furthermore, it's irrelevant.  No one is suggesting that anti-Semitism doesn't exist in France - both anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia are well established.  Again, the reason the press has run some stories about an anti-Muslim backlash is because this is one of the biggest stories in the world right now, and probably the biggest news story in France.


    I'm glad you asked (none / 0) (#34)
    by CST on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 11:10:40 AM EST
    Maybe this will enlighten you.

    Before you go the "it's illegal" route I would ask if you are allowed to attack someone if they are speeding.  Or for that matter if Jewish religious symbols have been made illegal.


    a dead body (none / 0) (#33)
    by CST on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 11:06:55 AM EST
    is not the only indication of a backlash.

    Muslims have plenty to fear in France these days.


    getting a slot on American (none / 0) (#36)
    by jondee on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 12:29:15 PM EST
    AM talk radio was enough to mollify them for the time being.

    Islamophobia (none / 0) (#1)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 01:27:47 PM EST
    The sure fire way to fight Islamophobia is to kill kids in a very cowardly and despicable way.  How anyone can claim to want to fight Islamophobia and then commit an act that will surely have the opposite effect is beyond words.

    I am surprised they haven't stormed in with a hail of bullets.  Why, what does he have they they need ?

    The group was not involved in (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 02:13:12 PM EST
    the killings, and it hasn't been established he was acting with their knowledge or endorsement.

    I Forget... (1.00 / 2) (#3)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 03:02:50 PM EST
    ...to mention that I was suggesting he was guilty.  He did that according to the post.  In all seriousness you may want to take it up with him for confessing, after all it does violate Talk Left policy.  That was a joke.

    And as far as the group being involved, who knows, but I didn't suggest they were.  I only suggested a member probably has the same 'fight' as the group.


    not at all certain how you got this: (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 10:00:11 PM EST
    The sure fire way to fight Islamophobia is to kill kids in a very cowardly and despicable way.

    from the post? yes, i saw your response, where you said it was a "joke". unfortunately for you, a joke, to be funny, must have a grain of truth in it, yours didn't.

    sounds like something set off someone who was on the edge of the cliff to begin with. i don't know why they haven't cut power and water both to the building. i always like to think they have a plan. usually they do. just as usually, it turns out to be a poor one.

    at this point, i'm not at all sure it really matters much (unless the authorities think he has worthwhile information) whether or not the police take him alive. yeah, i know that sounds harsh.  technically he only "allegedly" committed horrific, unprovoked murders of children, but let's be realistic......


    as in Lee Harvey Oswald (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by diogenes on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 10:07:06 PM EST
    "at this point, i'm not at all sure it really matters much (unless the authorities think he has worthwhile information)"

    Worthwhile information would be whether he was acting alone or as part of a larger terror cell.  Wouldn't it have been nice to know the same of Oswald?  


    about 99.999999999999999% of the population (none / 0) (#11)
    by cpinva on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 12:28:42 AM EST
    does know:

    Wouldn't it have been nice to know the same of Oswald?

    am i to assume you are one of the .00000000000001% that is rubish enough to spend money on kennedy assassination conspiracy books? what they lack in facts, they more than make up for in hyperbole.

    of course, that would be part of the "worthwhile information" i noted, or were you just not reading?


    Most Americans (none / 0) (#29)
    by me only on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:15:29 AM EST
    Just my point (none / 0) (#37)
    by diogenes on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 05:56:36 PM EST
    Either there was a conspiracy or there wasn't.  It's a lot harder to know when the killer is killed.  If this guy had lived and were proven to be a lone wolf then so much better for French Moslems in general.  There's no proof now.

    I Got It (none / 0) (#20)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 08:54:54 AM EST
    Because the mission, of the group he was in, was to fight Islamophobia.

    So then he, a Muslim, shoots & kills innocent people.  Essentially he commits several terrorists attacks.

    Seem counter-intuitive in what I assume is the perceived notion that muslims are terrorists, aka Islamophobia.

    And the part I was joking about is that it is Talk Left policy not to assume guilt, to which the perpetrator broke by confessing.  I think that is funny.


    Confessions are not to be questioned? (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 09:12:01 AM EST
    He was also many other self proclaimed things that aren't panning out.  That's troubling

    Of Course (none / 0) (#30)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:25:23 AM EST
    But I was using the suspects words, not mine.  I was only typing what he said, there was no judgement.  My point was a confession is against TL policy, which is funny, and not just this case.  If anyone confesses, according to TL policy, you can't use those words.  No big deal.

    Plus of course, this all came from the cops.  So the confession should be scrutinized, especially since they are the only ones who can confirm it.


    Sooner or later, he's going to go to sleep (none / 0) (#5)
    by scribe on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 10:06:58 PM EST
    So, just wait him out.

    Why assume that force is needed? (none / 0) (#7)
    by cymro on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 11:51:21 PM EST
    This seems (to me) to be a peculiarly American mindset. The guy is surrounded, he has no hostages, limited food, and no water supply. What's he going to do? The police, on the other hand, can wait indefinitely.

    Why is there any need for any action other than waiting patiently, not just until he sleeps, but until he gives up?


    they are trying to keep him (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 12:16:02 AM EST
    from sleeping. That's the point of the irregular explosions. They do want to wear him out and to surrender vs. being killed.

    06.00. The pace quickens
    For an hour, the RAID seems to rush a bit. With irregular explosions, the elite unit of the police aim to prevent Mohamed Merah to sleep while maintaining the pressure. However, the assault was not given. The forces of order are still hoping to surrender.

    i think it would also be nice (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by cpinva on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 12:34:47 AM EST
    if they could remove him without destroying the homes of all the other residents, who were evacuated earlier.

    With all (none / 0) (#13)
    by NYShooter on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 01:03:59 AM EST
     the high-tech, covert, audio/visual equipment available to the police I would be surprised if they didn't know exactly what he's up to.

    To your point regarding the potential destruction of property, (I realize you were referring to the police, but,) I don't know what Merah has at his disposal that could cause extensive damage. That would be the only provocation I can see for an assault on Merah.

    I truly hope wiser heads are in charge, and not politicians.


    Merah is in charge for now! (none / 0) (#8)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 11:55:24 PM EST
    Please realize folks that Merah is in "charge" at this point in time because of two things:
    1. He is willing to kill and
    2. he is willing to die.  That is a great weapon.

    Sure the French can end it any time they want, but they are constrained because they (up until now) have not been willing to just kill him, and they certainly aren't willing to die.

    As I have stated before, I am not going to give extreme terrorist templates, but I will state that Merah has surely prepared for this event.  He has already wounded at least 3 of the French trying to get to him.  

    He could have prepared his apartment or the building for an all out assault, or if he isn't equipped to handle that he surely is prepared to deny the French access to his knowledge and the satisfaction of parading him like a prize "game bird" being prepared by the Chef for the table.

    Remember he is already been in prison in Afghanistan.  He knows what it is like.

    he was not in prison in Afghanistan (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 12:12:34 AM EST
    That was debunked earlier (as I wrote in the post) and again just recently:

    02.55 Mohammed Merah was NOT jailed in Afghanistan in 2007, his lawyer and an Afghan provincial officer have told Reuters. Christian Etelin, Merah's lawyer, said it wasn't possible as he had been serving a three year sentence in France at the time for robbery with violence. Kandahar prison chief Ghulam Faruq earlier claimed he had been detained in December 2007 over an alleged bomb plot in the region.

    And the BBC:


    It emerges that the suspect, Mohammed Merah, was not jailed in Afghanistan in 2007, as was being reported earlier. This was based on information from Kandahar prison chief Ghulam Faruq.