While confessed jihadist and al-Qaida sympathizer Mohamed Merah was holed up in his Toulouse apartment, staving off police during a 32-hour siege that ended with his death, Al Jazeera news network received a package containing video footage of his attack on the Ozar Hatorah school, French daily Le Parisien reported on Monday.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy has reportedly demanded of any TV stations that have received the video footage not to broadcast it.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera is considering whether to show the film, received at its Paris bureau on a memory stick late on Monday, the network’s Paris bureau chief Zied Tarrouche said.
"Management will decide today what we will do with this footage," Tarrouche said. "We have explained to management the issues with broadcasting or not broadcasting this footage."
According to AFP, Tarrouche also told French news network BFM-TV, “We are not a sensationalist network. We are not looking to broadcast images without measuring the risks and consequences,” told French news network BFM-TV.
"This is why management will decide today during a meeting in Qatar whether to broadcast this video," he said, adding, "We should know in a few hours."
On March 19, Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent who claimed links to al-Qaida, rode up on a motorbike to the Jewish school in Toulouse and brutally gunned down three children and a rabbi.
A police official in Paris told Reuters that a memory card with footage of the attack, accompanied by Islamic music, arrived at the Al Jazeera news station and was passed on to police investigators, who have not released the films to the public.
The package was sent on March 21 while police were surrounding Merah’s apartment. On the following day, police stormed the apartment and killed Merah.
According to Le Parisien, police are investigating whether the package was sent by Merah himself on Tuesday night (March 20), or on Wednesday morning (March 21) by an accomplice.
Meanwhile, security officials in Israel confirmed on Monday that Merah visited Israel for three days in 2010. Merah entered Israel from Jordan via the Allenby border crossing. Officials said he was detained and interrogated due to his name and the fact that he entered Israel alone, without family or fellow travelers.
After confirming Merah was not involved in terrorist activity, officials said he was released and allowed to enter Israel using his French passport.
Additional information about Merah was provided by French media on Monday. According to one French Web page, Merah was married three months before his murderous rampage, and two months prior to his marriage vacationed at a ski resort in Switzerland with friends. Another news agency reported that Merah was divorced two days before he was killed in his apartment, which would have put the divorce date just hours after his attack on the school in Toulouse.
In an apparent repercussion for Merah’s murders, which included the gunning down of three French soldiers in addition to the bloodshed at Ozar Hatorah, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced on Monday that Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, would not be granted entry to France next month to attend a conference for Muslim organizations.
Sarkozy said he would prevent the entry of other Muslim preachers who are considered extremists in an effort to curtail the activities of radical Muslim groups in France.