In Their Hunt for the Suspect, French Police Made a Series of Mistakes

The huge operation started only on Monday, despite the fact the murders took place four days earlier, and Interior Minister Gueant couldn't seem to tear himself away from the television cameras.

With the end of the French police's siege outside the home of the prime suspect in the Toulouse shootings, it is time to look back at how the French security services handled the operation. French Interior Minister Claude Gueant managed proceedings on the ground, but never seemed to separate himself from the television cameras.

On Wednesday, Gueant promised that within an hour, Merah would turn himself in, and that the suspect did not intend to kill himself. In the end, it was clear that something changed in Merah's (or should this be Gueant?) logic, a logic that he built and developed in the glare of the television cameras. Sarkozy telephoned to congratulate the interior minister, but is not clear why.

France shooting - AFP - March 22, 2012

The huge operation, involving hundreds of investigators and police started only on Monday afternoon, in the aftermath of the shooting at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, despite the fact that already four days earlier, after the murder of two French soldiers, it was clear that the perpetrator was repeating himself, and that he was liable to attack again.

For a period of days, security forces continued on the Neo-Nazi route, and dismissed other possible lines of inquiry, even though it seems as if Mohamed Merah was under the radar of the security forces, and that he was known to them as a radical Islamist operative. The scenario which the French security forces had feared for the last 30 hours, finally took place on Wednesday afternoon, as Police confirmed the death of Mohamed Merah in Toulouse.