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Brother of French gunman denounces his family

Abdelghani Merah, the brother of Mohamed Merah, who killed seven people in Toulouse, France, says they were raised with hatred, anti-Semitism and violence.

November 09, 2012|By Devorah Lauter, Los Angeles Times
  • Mohamed Merah killed seven people in Toulouse, France, in March before he was slain by police. His brother has cowritten a book denouncing his family's teachings of hatred and anti-Semitism.
Mohamed Merah killed seven people in Toulouse, France, in March before… (France 2 Television, European…)

PARIS — The older brother of a French militant who killed seven people early this year before being shot to death by police has spoken out against his family in a new book, condemning what he describes as a childhood of hatred, anti-Semitism and violence.

Abdelghani Merah, 36, is the brother of Mohamed Merah, 23, who in the name of Islamic extremism shot to death three Jewish children, a rabbi and three soldiers in and around Toulouse in March. The killings have come to be seen here as part of a broader threat of home-grown terrorism.

In an interview published in Friday's Liberation, a French daily, the older Merah denounced an atmosphere of "intolerance" for other races and Judaism, which he says led to his brother's extreme violence. He said the family preached hatred to him and his four siblings, celebrated his brother's "courage" after he was killed March 22 by a French SWAT team, and encouraged the young man's Islamic extremism, which led him to train with Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

"There's not a single instant that goes by when I don't think of his victims," Abdelghani Merah told Liberation from his apartment in Toulouse. "I want to denounce the hatred in which we were raised, the hatred my brothers' Salafist friends transmitted to them, denounce the unthinkable that my brother committed. I am the brother of the killer, but I stand with the victims."

There was no immediate statement from the family.

Abdelghani Merah has cowritten a book about his family titled "My Brother, This Terrorist," which comes out Wednesday.

The siblings' father, Mohamed Ben-Allal Merah, was born in 1942 in Souagui, Algeria, and immigrated to France in 1966. Abdelghani said Mohamed was the most affected by their parents' eventual divorce, which he said led the younger brother to become "uncontrollable." The father returned to Algeria in 2004 after he retired.

In an excerpt from the book published Friday in the French media, Abdelghani Merah wrote:

"I rage against my parents who raised us under violence and intolerance, against my sister Souad, who applauded his [Mohamed's] fundamentalist deliriums, against my brother Kader, who comforted him in his delirium without ever telling him he was mistaken. But also to my maternal uncles and especially Hamid," who "never stopped spreading hatred, racism and anti-Semitism in front of us, starting during our tender childhood."

Abdelkader Merah, nicknamed Kader, is in police custody on charges of complicity in the killings.

During the funeral for his brother, Abdelghani Merah said, he heard people cheering and telling his mother to "be proud. Your son put France to its knees."

Abdelghani said he shouted: "My brother is not a hero! He's a vulgar assassin!" and walked out.

Lauter is a special correspondent.

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