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Graphic video may help answer whether French gunman Mohamed Merah worked alone

Caroline Blumberg / EPA

French police investigators on Thursday analyze the scene outside the building where a 32-hour long standoff with gunman Mohamed Merah, took place in Toulouse, France.

TOULOUSE, France -- French police are examining video equipment and explosives recovered from Islamist extremist Mohamed Merah’s apartment to determine if the suspect in the killing of three children and four adults had any accomplices.

Merah, 23, died Thursday as he scrambled out of a ground-floor window during a gunbattle with elite police commandos. A police sniper shot him in the head, ending a 32-hour standoff at his Toulouse apartment, police said.


In contact with authorities during the standoff, he admitted that in three attacks he killed three Jewish children, a rabbi and three French paratroopers, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.

France 2 via AP

Mohamed Merah, the suspect in the killing of 3 paratroopers, 3 children and a rabbi in France.

"A killer wanted, according to his own words, to bring France to its knees by sowing hatred and terror. He has been neutralized," President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is running for re-election next month, told a campaign rally in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

In a TV address, Sarkozy announced an investigation into whether Merah had accomplices and the possibilities of Islamist indoctrination practices in prison.

"Our Muslim compatriots have nothing to do with the crazy actions of a terrorist," Sarkozy said. "We should not embark on any stigmatization."

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Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian origin, was on a "no fly" list maintained by U.S. authorities, two American officials told The Associated Press. The officials would not disclose precisely when Merah was placed on the U.S. watch list.

U.S. and French authorities said Merah had traveled to Afghanistan around 2010 to obtain training from Islamic militants. He had spent time with militants along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border before being captured and returned to France.

At some point after his capture, two other U.S. officials said, Merah was held in custody by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Precise details of how and when this occurred and what happened to him next are still unclear.

In Toulouse, police recovered a bag containing a GoPro video camera that Merah had used round his neck to film the killings.

Email trail led cops to suspect in Jewish school slayings

Islamic extremist Mohamed Merah, who bragged about killing seven people to punish France, jumped from a window after a French SWAT team burst into the apartment where he had been cornered for more than a day. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

Molins indicated Merah posted clips online. Molins described videos recovered from Merah's apartment showing the attacks, the BBC reported.

"These films are extremely explicit, as we were able to verify yesterday, in which evidently we see him during his encounter with a soldier who he shot twice, saying to him: 'You kill my brothers, I kill you'," Molins said. "Then we also see him killing the soldiers in Montauban in an extremely violent scene, fleeing on his scooter whilst shouting 'Allahu akbar' [God is great]."

Road to Mohamed Merah's radicalization goes through Afghanistan 

 

The videos and recordings of all of Merah's conversations with negotiators during the siege will be used in a forthcoming inquiry, Molins said.

Pascal Pavani / AFP - Getty Images

Forensics officers Thursday investigate the building where self-professed al-Qaida militant Mohamed Merah, 23, was living on the first floor (window at far-right) in Toulouse, southwestern France.

A militant Islamist group called Jund al-Khilafah (Soldiers of the Caliphate) claimed responsibility for Merah's killings, according to a statement posted on an internet forum used by Islamists. It named the assailant as Yousef al-Ferensi and said his attack "shook the foundations of the Zio-Crusaderdom."

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"Israel's crimes against our people in the blessed land of Palestine, especially in Gaza, will not go unpunished," said the group, which was previously unknown until it took credit in November for two explosions in a western Khazakh oil city.

The interior ministry declined to comment specifically on the statement but said there was no evidence Merah belonged formally to any group.

During the standoff, authorities said, Merah had told negotiators that he was trained by al-Qaida in Pakistan and killed three paratroopers last week and four people at a Jewish school on Monday to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and because of French army involvement in Afghanistan.

This article includes reporting by Reuters, The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff.

The alleged gunman in a series of deadly shootings in France, including one at a Jewish school near Toulouse, is dead after jumping from the apartment where he was hold up for 32 hours.  NBC's Jim Maceda reports.

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