French gunman says al-Qaida offered him chance to attack Canada

News Agencies – July 10, 2012


PARIS – Leaked recordings of a conversation between a French terrorism suspect and authorities indicate the suspect claimed jihadists at a terrorist training camp encouraged him to attack Canada. French authorities are investigating how the recordings between Mohamed Merah and police were obtained by French television station TF1, which aired what it said were tapes of the man talking to officials during a standoff in southern France.

In an excerpt of the recording posted on the Internet, Merah — who died in a shootout — describes travelling to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Speaking in French, he says al-Qaida operatives offered to let him carry out attacks in Canada and the United States. But — according to the tapes — Merah says as he was a French citizen, it would be easier for him to launch an attack in France. “They offered me attacks in America, Canada,” a translation of the French recording now available on the Internet says.

Police say Merah espoused radical Islam and claimed allegiance to al-Qaida. He was holed up in his apartment for 32 hours surrounded by police before dying in a hail of bullets. The Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation on Monday into the airing of the recordings, which could violate French rules on the privacy of investigations.

TF1 pulled the recordings off its website, but they are circulating on other sites. France’s Interior Ministry insisted that any recordings the police made of the standoff with Merah were protected by privacy rules and had not been made public.

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