French authorities have reported that Mohammed Merah, the main suspect of the Toulouse killings who claimed links to al-Qaeda, acted on his own.
They say his “jihadist” route doesn’t show a clear link to any known terrorist organization that could have given him orders to do what he did.
However, French newspaper Le Monde has questioned this theory based on several key elements of Merah’s past.
In 2010, the paper reports, and during his stay in Kandahar, south Afghanistan, Merah caught the attention of the Afghan police that handed him over to NATO forces. NATO denied sending him back on a plane to France.
According to the paper, an American officer said that the visa stamps on Merah’s passport reveal his last expeditions, the oldest being in Israel, then Syria followed by Iraq and Jordan. Before he was arrested in Kandahar, Merah tried to obtain a visa for India.
There are no actual facts surrounding his trip to Israel, but the paper quotes the American officer as suspecting that Kandahar police’s investigations may have led to the conclusion that Merah was attempting to enter the Palestinian territories to conduct an attack.
His trip to Iraq was facilitated by his brother Abdulkader, who is currently in police custody in Toulouse. According to the French police, Abdulkader is known to have participated in the formation of an Islamist organization in Toulouse.
Merah is also said to have traveled to Iran, twice. Le Monde said it questioned the French Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (DCRI) about this issue but they have denied the story.
At this point, what is certain is Merah’s time in tribal areas in Pakistan in 2011. He sojourned to the south then the north of Waziristan, on the frontiers of Afghanistan, a zone known to be controled by Taliban as well as insurgents.