On Sunday night French television aired the audio transcripts of the conversations between Toulouse killer Mohamed Merah, a police negotiator and an intelligence officer. The airing of these transcripts not surprisingly aroused a storm of controversy, with many fearful that the video of the killings may be made public as well. Merah had a camera attached to him when he committed the murders. Here are segments of the transcripts as reported by the Daily Beast. French readers can consult Le Monde:
"I know there's a risk you will kill me. It's a risk I am taking. So there, know that, in front of you, you have a man who is not afraid of death. For me, death, I love it like you love life," says Mohamed Merah, calmly, with a slight Toulouse accent, in the excerpts of tapes aired by the TF1 network. The audio spurred immediate anger from victims' families who say through lawyers that they were assured the tape would remain sealed in evidence and that they were not warned before Sunday's broadcast.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls, a Socialist whose government won office after the Merah affair, was dismayed that "no precaution was taken to respect the families of the victims." Valls' predecessor, Claude Guéant, a close associate of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, said, "This airing reawakens the considerable grief that was felt by our whole country, a veritable trauma." The victims' families have asked that further airings of the audio be blocked.
The French daily Le Monde on Monday afternoon claimed to have obtained transcripts of Merah's conversations, recorded during the siege overnight on March 21–22, with a police negotiator and an intelligence officer. Merah had previously met the intelligence officer in November 2011, when he was called in for questioning about suspicious travels in Pakistan and Afghanistan, controversially convincing his interviewer that he was no more than a tourist in Central Asia. Holed up in his besieged apartment, rattling off all of his erstwhile future targets over a police-issued walkie-talkie—police officers, a synagogue—Merah had news for the officer.
"Want me to tell you something, H.?" he asked, in Le Monde's published excerpts.
"I hope you didn't target me?" the officer replies.
For parents of the Scooter Killer victims, Sunday night’s airing of the audio transcripts reawaken fears that the video Merah filmed of the killings with a camera strapped to his chest will eventually be made public.
"Yes, believe me that I targeted you," Merah replies. "My goal was to call you, to tell you I had the name [of the killer] so that you would come to me and then you'd have gotten one right in the head." In Le Monde's transcripts, Merah goes on to say he'd envisioned being shot down as he sprayed gunfire into a police station.
Much of the new material in the transcripts echoes information already circulating shortly after Merah's death. In the newly published material, Merah is shown claiming he acted alone, that his contacts in Waziristan had proposed that he carry out attacks in the United States and Canada, but that he declined those. Merah is also shown denying the suggestion that his brother was an accomplice in his killing spree. Abdelkader Merah, 29, was taken into police custody in the early hours of the siege and remains jailed. "You know very well that me and him, it's like Tom and Jerry. We're like cat and dog," Merah tells his interviewer. "All the time, we're falling out. When we make up, it doesn't last long ... My objective was to attack alone ... in order to be entirely autonomous."
In Le Monde's excerpts, Merah is evidently proud of his ruse. His wild haircuts, nightclubbing, jeans, New Balance sneakers—all give him an air of someone less than committed to the jihadist cause. "I got myself arrested by the Jews in Israel, by Iraqi soldiers in Mosul, by Algerian soldiers in the mountains of Boumerdès or mountains next to the Kabylie region where all our brothers operate. I got myself arrested in Afghanistan," he says in these transcripts. "You completely messed up because I was able to do three attacks, kill more than seven people, and injure several."
Labels: Media, Terrorism, Toulouse