Despite his claims to the contrary, French officials today say they have found no evidence that Mohamed Merah actually had al-Qaeda ties before his death yesterday in a gunfight with police.
During the standoff, Merah had claimed to have attended an al-Qaeda training camp in Waziristan, and also cited the group as “inspiration” for his attacks, though he didn’t appear to have claimed he was taking orders from them.
Merah’s multiple shootings have led to questions for President Nicolas Sarkozy about why his government wasn’t more closely surveilling him. So far, the only answer has been a threat to mass imprison those caught reading websites like the ones Merah read.
It has also led the European Union to talk more about “lone wolves”— potential attackers who are not affiliated with any terrorist group. EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove claimed some 400 “lone wolves” in the EU, and insisted that all are “obviously monitored.”
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