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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Al Jazeera has Merah murder video (updated)

From AFP:

The Al-Jazeera news network said Tuesday it was considering broadcasting videos shot by an Islamist extremist killer during a shooting spree in southern France that shocked the country.

French police said Monday they had copies of the videos, shot by Mohamed Merah during a series of killings that left seven dead, that had been sent on a USB memory stick to Al-Jazeera's office in Paris.

Merah, a 23-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent, had previously boasted of filming his killings and witnesses had told police that he appeared to be wearing a video camera in a chest harness.

"We are not a sensationalist network. We are not looking to broadcast images without measuring the risks and consequences," Al-Jazeera's Paris bureau chief, Zied Tarrouche, told French news network BFM-TV.

"This is why management will decide today during a meeting in Qatar whether to broadcast this video or not," he said. "We should know in a few hours."

Tarrouche said the videos showed the attacks in chronological order and had been edited into a montage.

"There was a mixture of religious music and chants, lectures, and recitals of verses from the Koran," he said, adding that a letter was included with the USB key that claimed the attacks in the name of al-Qaida.
BBC adds:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has urged TV stations not to air video of the attacks by gunman Mohamed Merah as al-Jazeera discusses showing footage.
AP adds:
[Al Jazeera's] Tarrouche said the images appeared to have been taken from the point of view of the killer, perhaps from a camera hung around his neck. He said they were a bit shaky but of a high technical quality.

The video had clearly been manipulated after the fact, according to Tarrouche, with religious songs and recitations of Quranic verses laid over the footage.

"You can hear gunshots at the moment of the killings. You can hear the voice of this person who has committed these assassinations. You can hear also the cries of the victims, and the voices were distorted," Tarrouche said.
DPA adds:
The postage date on the parcel was March 21, according to France Info - the day on which the police siege of Merah's Toulouse apartment began. He was killed a day later in a shootout with police.

So French police need to figure out whether Merah or an accomplice mailed this video (as well as who edited it.)

AFP continues with Merah's father's threat to sue France:
French officials reacted with fury on Tuesday to threats from his father, Mohamed Benalel Merah, to sue France over his son's death.

"If I were the father of such a monster, I would shut my mouth in shame," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told Radio Classique.

A senior adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy, Henri Guaino, also lashed out at the lawsuit threat.

"It is his right, but only one word comes to mind: indecent," he told France Culture radio. "This guy was a monster who killed in cold blood."

Mohamed Benalel Merah told AFP on Monday he planned to sue French authorities for having shot his son instead of taking him alive.

"France is a big country that had the means to take my son alive. They could have knocked him out with gas and taken him in," he said. "They preferred to kill him.

"I will hire the biggest named lawyers and work for the rest of my life to pay their costs. I will sue France for having killing my son."

UPDATE: Al Jazeera decided not to release the video.