Municipal officials gave preferential treatment to the mother of an Islamist terrorist who killed Jews in Toulouse, allegedly with help from his brother, a French political activist said.
Gilbert Collard, a supporter of the far-right politician Marine Le Pen of the National Front party, wrote to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe last week to complain that Zoulikha Merah was prioritized over other applicants for public housing based on a request in which she cited the need to be near the trial of her eldest son. He is accused of helping his younger brother, Mohammed, kill four Jews and three soldiers in 2012.
“This lady effectively received absolute priority for public housing in Tremblay,” Collard wrote. He did not provide any evidence of the preferential treatment he said Zoulikha Merah had received.
The western municipality that Collard named is located 195 miles from Paris, where last month the trial of 35-year-old Abdelkader Merah opened five years after his initial arrest for allegedly helping his brother carry out deadly shootings in Toulouse. But it is much closer to Paris than Zoulikha Merah’s home in Toulouse, which is located 410 miles south of the capital.
Before his trial began, Abdelkader Merah was held in Vivonne, which is located 233 miles from Toulouse. But his mother’s request to be near him was filed when he was still being held in Villepinte near Paris, Collard also wrote.
In addition to Abdelkader Merah, another suspected Islamist, 34-year-old Fettah Malki, also is facing charges of assisting Mohammed Merah carry out terrorist attacks in March 2012. Mohammed Merah gunned down three children and a rabbi at the school. He was killed in a shootout with police at an apartment three days after the school killings.
Both the older brother and Malki have denied having any prior knowledge of Mohammed Merah’s planned attacks, but police say they have evidence suggesting both were involved in preparations. Abdelkader Merah also supported his brother spiritually and psychologically in his becoming a terrorist, the prosecution said.
Born to a family of four children, Mohammed Merah was “raised to be an anti-Semite because anti-Semitism was part of the atmosphere at home,” his youngest brother, Abdelghani, said in 2013.
Abdelghani Merah has denounced his family publicly, calling their denials and claims of innocence part of their belief in taqqiyah — an Islamic term meaning “subterfuge” in the service of jihad.
The Merahs’ sister, Souad, fled France after authorities there questioned her for saying she was proud of her brother. She and her four children were seen three years ago in the Turkish city of Gazyantep, where they are believed to have crossed into Syria to join the Islamic State terrorist group, according to the TF1 television series.