French police report reveals failures before Toulouse shootings

By Sahar Zivan, October 25, 2012

French police have released a report into their conduct during the years leading up to the shootings in Toulouse earlier this year.

The report reveals several failings in intelligence-gathering, most notably a shortage of communication between the various agencies.

Mohamed Merah was responsible for a string of shootings in Toulouse and Montauban in March, in which French soldiers and Jews were targeted. There were seven casualties in total, three of them soldiers and the other four Jews, three of them children.

According to the report, various units of the French police and intelligence organisations were not working together effectively. The French central intelligence agency, DCRI, received specific criticism for “identifying the change in [Mohamed] Merah’s profile very late”.

The report suggests that had the departments worked together, the DCRI could have identified Merah’s radicalisation around two years earlier than they eventually did, in 2010.

Despite surveillance indicating that he was in regular contact with local radical Islamist elements, was exhibiting signs of paranoia and was receiving funds from extremists, surveillance on Mr Merah was reduced towards the end of 2011.

Following the release of the report, Interior Minister Manuel Valls vowed to “rapidly put into place the necessary adjustments”.

Plans presented to the French parliament earlier this month would allow the authorities to prosecute suspects for terrorism offences committed outside France, such as travelling to Islamist training camps.

The move is part of President Francois Hollande’s tightening of anti-terror laws as a result of the attacks.

Last updated: 10:57am, October 25 2012