Thursday, March 22, 2012

French Shooting Suspect Was on U.S. No-Fly List


WASHINGTON—The gunman suspected in a string of shootings in southern France was on the U.S.'s no-fly list as a suspected terrorist, according to people familiar with the matter.

A 23-year-old gunman suspected of killing seven people in southwestern jumped from a window to his death in a hail of bullets after police stormed his apartment. (Video: Reuters/Photo: AP)

Two people familiar with the case said Mohammed Merah was on the list because in 2010 he had been in custody in Afghanistan, then sent back to France. Counterterrorism officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which manages the U.S. no-fly list, also had collected information on Mr. Merah before the recent shootings in France, including the 2010 encounter, officials said.

The circumstances of his apprehension, detention and return to France weren't entirely clear. U.S. military officials said they don't have a record of his being in American custody while in Afghanistan.
Dow Jones reporter Inti Landauro reports from Toulouse, France on the end of the nearly two-day standoff between police and murder suspect Mohamed Merah. Police shot and killed him as he jumped from an apartment window. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Mr. Merah died in a shootout with French police following a tense armed standoff at a Toulouse apartment. During the standoff, Mr. Merah had claimed he had undergone training with al Qaeda in the Pakistan region of Waziristan, according to French officials.
The suspect apparently returned briefly to the region last year, and then arrived back in France in October, according to French authorities.
A 23-year-old French citizen of Algerian descent, Mr. Merah is suspected of killing four people at a Jewish school Monday, and fatally shooting three soldiers the previous week.