[Video the above image was taken from is below fold..SH]
Reuters is reporting that at least one member of an Islamist group is responsible for the shootings in France:
TOULOUSE, March 21 (Reuters) - Two French police officers were injured in a shoot-out during a raid on a house in Toulouse on Wednesday to arrest suspects in the killings of three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in southwest France this week, a police source said.
The source said the raid began at 3:00 a.m. local time (0200 GMT) and was ongoing, but did not provide further details.
French news channel BFM TV said the suspects were linked to an Islamist group which it identified as Forsane Alizza. BFM said police were negotiating with a 24-year-old man inside the house.
Witnesses explain the gunman stopped shooting for a brief moment, apparently to change clips in his gun. He entered the school and grabbed Miriam Monsonego (8) HY”D as she was running. He grabbed her hair and fired at her body. As she bled out and slumped to the floor, he listed her head and fired two shots at her head from point blank range to make certain his Jewish victim would not survive.
There is no part of hell hot enough for the savage who perpetrated these killings. There is no place in this world or the next for such cruelty. It is something no civilized human being could ever do to another.
Update by Howie: VOA:
French police identify the suspect as 24 year-old Mohammed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian origin.
Police have him holed up in a house in Toulouse. Interior Minister Claude Gueant, who is outside the house, says police are determined to take Merah alive.
Gueant says the suspect claims he belongs to al-Qaida, and that he wanted to avenge Palestinian children killed in the Middle East. Police arrested his brother shortly after raiding the house early Wednesday.
The gunman is accused of murdering a rabbi and three children - ages four, five, and seven - at the Jewish school in Toulouse before driving off on a motorcycle.
Mohammed Merah visited Pakistan twice, in 2010 and 2011, and was arrested at Kandahar in southern Afghanistan at the end of 2010. The Afghan authorities notified French police.
After the first two shootings, in Toulouse and Montauban, he was "in the sights" of France's domestic intelligence service, the DCRI, along with others, an unnamed official told AFP news agency.
A crucial piece of evidence appears to have been an email account used to contact the first shooting victim, who had advertised a motorcycle online.
Update by SH: It is now being reported Merah may have been arrested Still sketchy. Update No, he wasn't arrested.
Read Jihadology's tweets on Storify for background on Forsane Alizza
A tweet from Internet Haganah shows on his timeline:
Just a reminder: as per repeated messages from AQ, if the Toulouse shooter says he's AQ, he is, period
Aaron also noted the standoff may take awhile. The shooter may be uploading videos he supposedly took during the shooting.
Update: The perp reportedly called France 24's Ebba Kalondo hours before raid [h/t J.M. Berger] Wow!
Update by DMartyr: Relax, everyone! Ed West at The Telegraph assures us it had nothing to do with Islam. We are all just a bunch of Islamophobes for even thinking it.
Update by DMartyr: Surveillance frames of suspect:
Update by SH: Forsane Alizza Background Brief by ICT's Jihadi Websites Monitoring Group [h/t Aaron]
UPDATE by Rusty: The Forsane Alizza website is down, but the Internet Archive has a backup of the site. Here's a translated screenshot of the site from July of last year to give you a taste of what these guys are all about.
And here is a link to their Daily Motion page. They have 53 videos there.
The common themes of both at first glance seems to be the usual combination of cries of "Islamophobia" mixed with a narrative about a 'war on Islam'. Of course, you-know-who (Zionists) are really behind this war.
One interesting tidbit though is a series of articles on Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations. Only, this isn't the usual critique of the book that posited that the 'borders of Islam are bloody'. No, this is a guide on how to bring about a clash between Islam and the West.
It looks like our suspect may have been heeding that advice.
UPDATE by Rusty: I can't help but wonder out loud -- this guy was arrested in Afghanistan and then sent back to France. He was on the radar of Frencc intelligence. So, why the hell a) wasn't he arrested earlier? b) all the talk about a 'neo-Nazi'?
People don't go to Afghanistan on vacation. Especially people belonging to a group known to have terrorist sympathies.
Two alternative explanations come to mind. Either the jihadi problem in Toulouse is so big that it was impossible to round up the usual suspects in a timely manner, or the French authorities have become so PC that they cannot or will not name a Muslim as a person of interest for fear of being labeled Islamophobes.
Update by SH: Web footprints of perps group, Forsane Alizza
Also, some joker is pretending to be him on twitter, not a smart thing to do me thinks.
UPDATE by Rusty: Apparently, he has an older brother named Abdelkader Merah who has been implicated in a terrorism case before.
The family that jihads together .......
Update 03/22/12 at 7:39 CDT: Mohammed Merah is dead!