LONDON, UK – The elder brother of Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah is being questioned by anti-terrorism police in Paris to determine whether he served as an accomplice in a series of execution-style gun attacks that left seven people dead in France’s south-western cities of Toulouse and Montauban.
The gunman’s mother was released without charge on Friday evening, but his brother, Abdelkader Merah, was flown to Paris from Toulouse with his unnamed partner on Saturday and taken to the headquarters of France’s domestic intelligence agency (DCRI), the BBC reports.
According to the Agence France Presse, Abdelkader told police he was “proud” of his younger sibling’s killing spree. He admitted to having been present when his brother stole a scooter used in three deadly attacks around Toulouse, although he claims to have known nothing about Mohamed’s criminal intentions.
Reuters reports that Abdelkader and his wife are to appear tomorrow before an investigating judge when prosecutors will seek charges and open a judicial investigation. Reuters cites a "police source" as saying that Abdelkader had confessed to responsibility in the theft of the Yamaha scooter used in the killings.
Mohamed, 23, of Algerian descent, died in a 30-hour siege of his Toulouse apartment on Thursday, after admitting during police negotiations to killing three children and a man at a Jewish school, as well as three soldiers in two separate incidents.
He recorded the shootings on a video camera attached to his body, and told security forces during the siege that he had been planning to kill more soldiers and police officers.
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Police are trying to ascertain whether Merah, who described himself as an Al Qaeda member, received any help in carrying out the attacks, which have shocked France and raised troubling national security questions four weeks before the French go to the polls for presidential elections.
Police say there is evidence to suggest that Abdelkader helped his brother carry out the attacks, The Guardian reports.
According to the public prosecutor leading the case, as quoted by Reuters, police have found explosives in a car owned by Abdelkader, who was already known to security forces for allegedly helping to smuggle young Toulouse-area jihadist militants into Iraq in 2007.
A lawyer for the mother of the two men, Zoulhika Aziri, told reporters in Toulouse after her release that the 55-year-old’s world had been “turned upside down,” according to the Associated Press.
“She is devastated,” the lawyer said. “At no time could she have imagined that her son was the one who did it.”
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