The head of France’s intelligence unit Bernard Squarcini has told journalists that in 2010 Israeli police questioned Toulouse killer Mohamed Merah over a knife found in his possession.
Following Merah’s death Thursday in a firefight with French police, French newspaper LeMonde reported that a US official said that Merah’s passport, found in a police search of his apartment during his stay in Afghanistan, showed stamps from Israel and other Arab countries, indicating he had visited the region.
According to the official, Afghan police searched Merah’s apartment in November 2010 and examined the passport before replacing it.
French authorities said the killer of seven had been to Afghanistan and the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan in 2007, where he claimed to have received training from al-Qaeda. He was later imprisoned by Afghan troops in Kandahar.
The American source reportedly said that Merah “did enter or tried to enter” the Palestinian territories.
Merah’s reported entry to Israel is further complicated by the fact that he was on the US’s no-fly list, according to an American intelligence official.
The Shin Bet is investigating whether, and if so, how, the Toulouse terrorist, who was a known member of a radical Salafist Muslim group, managed to enter Israel.
Interior Ministry officials said Thursday that no one entered Israel under the name Mohamed Merah, and concluded that if indeed he did, he must have done so with a fake passport.