An investigation by Israeli intelligence revealed on Monday that Mohamed Merah, the gunmen responsible for last week’s Toulouse shootings, spent time in Israel and Palestinian territories over a year and a half ago.
According to the Shin Bet, Merah entered Israel after crossing the Allenby Bridge from Jordan in September 2010. He was investigated by the Shin Bet. The investigation did not bring up any suspicious information, and he was allowed to enter the country.
Furthermore, The Shin Bet investigation could not confirm a claim by the French intelligence that Merah was arrested in Israel with a knife.
Merah stayed in Israel for a total of three days, during which it is unknown whether he was involved in any terror-related activity.
Security sources told Haaretz that Merah visited Israel before his stay in Afghanistan or Pakistan, thus there was no information that could indicate whether or not he constituted a security threat.
The revelation comes a day after a French judge placed Merah’s brother under formal investigation. Abdelkader Merah is set tobe moved to a prison and remain there for the duration of an inquiry into suspected complicity in a spate of fatal shootings.
A legal source told Reuters that four anti-terrorist judges would lead an inquiry into gunman Mohamed Merah's killing of three Jewish children, a rabbi and three soldiers, and investigate his elder brother for complicity.
"He has been placed under formal investigation in line with the prosecutor's requirements," the source said.
Mohamed Merah was shot dead by a police sniper on Thursday as he scrambled out of his apartment window, firing a pistol, after special force commandos stormed his home in the southern city of Toulouse to break a more than 30-hour siege.
He earlier told police negotiators he had carried out the three shootings in Toulouse and the surrounding area to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and protest against the French army's role in Afghanistan. He said he regretted there were not more victims.
Since his death, the focus of the investigation has switched to Abdelkader, 29, who was already known to security services for helping smuggle Jihadist militants into Iraq in 2007. He is suspected of playing a role in providing logistical support to his brother.
Abdelkader had been in detention since dawn on Wednesday as police in Toulouse and then Paris questioned him. Being placed under formal investigation is the next legal step after being held in custody and means that a criminal trial is likely.
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