Signs mounted Sunday, March 25 that the brother of a radical Islamist gunman who killed schoolchildren and paratroopers in southern France may have helped prepare the attacks, AP reported.
The Paris prosecutor’s office opened a judicial inquiry into whether older brother Abdelkader Merah was complicit in preparing terrorist acts. And a special anti-terrorist judge was expected to file preliminary charges against him later Sunday.
The moves suggest investigators have strong reason to believe that 23-year-old gunman Mohamed Merah was not acting alone when he planned his attacks, which left three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers dead and stunned France.
Merah claimed responsibility for the killings during a standoff with police that ended when he died Thursday in a hail of gunfire as he jumped out a window.
Prosecutor Francois Molins said the inquiry is also looking at anyone else who could have been involved in planning the attacks earlier this month in the city of Toulouse and nearby Montauban.
Investigators are trying to determine what role 30-year-old Abdelkader Merah played in acquiring his younger brother’s arsenal and financing his trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East. Mohamed Merah claimed allegiance to al-Qaida and told police he traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan for training.
Abdelkader is suspected of possible complicity to murder and theft and involvement in a terrorist enterprise, the prosecutor’s statement said. Abdelkader was questioned several years ago about alleged links to a network sending Toulouse-area youths to Iraq, but no action was brought against him at the time.