Dozens of French Muslims training with Taliban, Pakistan officials say
Pakistani intelligence officials say 85 Frenchmen training with Taliban over past three years; officials investigating whether Toulouse shootings perpetrator was one of those trained.
Pakistani intelligence officials said on Saturday that dozens of French Muslims have been training with the Taliban in northwest Pakistan, amid suspicions that Toulouse shootings perpetrator, Mohamed Merah, trained as part of this group.
The officials said Saturday they were investigating whether Merah, the Frenchman of Algerian descent suspected of killing seven people in the shooting attacks in Toulouse, southwestern France, this month, had been trained along with the other Frenchmen.
Merah traveled to Pakistan in 2011 and said he trained with al-Qaida in Waziristan. He was killed following an exchange of gunfire with police on Thursday, during a raid on his house. Police had besieged his house for 32-hours in an attempt to arrest him.
The officials said 85 Frenchmen have been training with the Pakistani Taliban in the North Waziristan tribal area for the past three years. Most have dual nationality with France and North African countries.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Meanwhile, the French media reported on Saturday that Merah's elder brother, Abdelkader, who was arrested on Wednesday after police found explosives in his car, told police investigators that he is "proud" of his brother's acts.
Abdelkader Merah, described by police as a religious fundamentalist, is being investigated for possible links to Merah's attacks, which killed three children, a rabbi and three soldiers. In 2007, Abdelkader Merah was investigated for links to Iraqi jihadists in 2007 but never charged.