NEWS

Al-Jazeera won't air French attack video

03/27/2012 10:10 EDT | Updated 05/27/2012 05:12 EDT

Al-Jazeera says it will not air a video that appears to show attacks on soldiers and a Jewish school in southwestern France from the killer's point of view.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, other French officials and family members of the victims had asked that the footage not be broadcast.

The television network received the footage on a USB key sent with a letter to their Paris office.

"I asked the managers of all the television stations that might have these images not to broadcast them in any circumstances out of respect for the victims," Sarkozy said.

Police traced the attacks to Mohamed Merah, 23. The French citizen was killed last week after a more than 30-hour standoff with police at his apartment building.

Merah filmed attacks

Prosecutors have said Merah filmed all three of his attacks. The first one took place on March 11 with the murder of a French soldier. The second attack took place on March 15, when three uniformed paratroopers were shot in the southern town of Montauban, killing two and critically wounding the other. On March 19, three Jewish children and a rabbi were killed.

Al-Jazeera's Paris bureau chief Ziad Tarrouche said Tuesday the images appear to have been taken from the point of view of the killer.

The video had clearly been edited, Tarrouche added, with religious songs and recitations of verses from the Qur'an laid over the footage.

French police said the footage was sent to the network, but not by Merah, raising the spectre of a possible accomplice.

Sarkozy has said Merah was not part of a terror cell. Investigators are looking into whether his brother, Abdelkader, was an accomplice, and whether anyone else might have been involved. Preliminary charges of complicity in murder and terrorism have been filed against Abdelkader. No evidence has emerged that would indicate he took part in the shooting.

Sarkozy, is in the middle of a tough re-election campaign. He has announced a raft of new measures aimed at preventing the spread of radical ideas, including penalizing those who consult websites that promote jihad.

'Why did they kill him?'

On Tuesday, he said wanted to speed up the process of expelling radicals from the country as well as prevent them from entering France.

"Extremists are playing with our administrative formalities. Our job is to be more efficient," he said. "Preachers who continually target our system can stay where they are. We don't want them on the soil of the French Republic."

In Algeria, Merah's father, who was estranged from his son, asked why a "strong country" like France had killed his son instead of capturing him.

"Why did they kill him? … They could have used gas, for example, to take him like a baby," Mohamed Benalel Merah said in an interview aired Tuesday by France 24 TV. He said his son should have been taken alive and judged.

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