PARIS — A video apparently showing a Muslim gunman’s attacks on soldiers and a Jewish school was sent to the Al-Jazeera news network — but not by him, French police said Tuesday, raising the specter of a possible accomplice.
Al-Jazeera on Tuesday decided not to air a video that seems to have been filmed from the killer’s point of view and includes the cries of his victims. The decision came after President Nicolas Sarkozy asked the network not to broadcast it.
While French politicians describe gunman Mohamed Merah as a “lone wolf” terrorist, his brother is behind bars on suspicion of helping in the attacks and police are continuing to look for potential accomplices.
A French official close to the investigation said the video was not sent by Merah, a 23-year-old Frenchman who was killed in a shootout Thursday after a 32-hour standoff with police at his apartment building in Toulouse.
Another official said the envelope sent to Al-Jazeera contained a Wednesday postmark from a large postal processing center for the area around Toulouse, meaning it was unclear exactly where it was mailed from. He could not say anything about who may have sent the video.
The first official said a technical analysis had concluded that it was not sent by Merah but did not indicate whether that analysis included fingerprints, DNA, surveillance or other data.
The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
Merah was in his apartment, surrounded by police, from well before dawn Wednesday until he was killed Thursday morning. Police did not elaborate on why they think he did not put the package into the mail before then.
Prosecutors have said that Merah filmed all of his attacks, which began March 11 with the murder of a French soldier. Before the spree ended, two more soldiers and three Jewish children and a rabbi were killed, while another student and another paratrooper were wounded.
French intelligence officials say they have found no sign of a link between Merah and al-Qaida or other international terrorist networks. Still, investigators say they are open to the possibility of accomplices.
Preliminary charges for complicity in murder and terrorism have been filed against Merah’s older brother, Abdelkader, though no evidence has emerged that he took part directly in the shooting.
It was not clear if Abdelkader could have sent the video. Police say they first detained him as they carried out Wednesday’s early morning raid.
“What we know is that it (the video) was reassembled. Things were added in. We don’t know if the full sequence was in it. But it was not just the video as it was filmed. There was an editing process and additions made,” the first official said.
Zied Tarrouche, Al-Jazeera’s Paris bureau chief, said the video had clearly been edited, with religious songs and recitations of Quranic verses laid over the footage.