The Envoy

  • Elite French counter-terrorism police were closing in Wednesday to arrest a suspect in the killing this week of three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in the southwestern city of Toulouse, France.

    The suspect in the attacks was identified as a 23-year-old Frenchman from Toulouse of Algerian descent named Mohammed Merah. He has reportedly traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, served jail time in France from 2007-2009 for non-terrorism related offenses,  and allegedly has proclaimed ties to al-Qaida. Police earlier Wednesday arrested the man's brother, whose computer IP address was reportedly used to answer an ad for a motorbike for sale by one of three French soldiers shot last week. A youngster cries against a hearse following a ceremony at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse March 20, 2012. (Remy de la Mauviniere/AP)

    The suspect's mother has been brought to the scene to try to assist police in persuading her son to surrender. France's Interior Minister Claude Guéant also arrived on the scene, outside a residential building in the northern Toulouse neighborhood of Croix-Daurade.

    Mareh has barricaded himself in the building, which the police were surrounding after a thirteen-hour standoff, as French officials addressed the media nearby.

    Earlier Wednesday, two French police officers were wounded in a shoot out with the suspect, MSNBC reported. The operation to try to take Mareh into custody has been broadcast live on French television all day.

    French news channel BFM TV reported that Merah "was linked to Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride), an Islamist group banned last month in France," the BBC reported. "From a family of five children, the suspect is a mechanic by trade, according to Le Point."

    A man claiming to be the gunman called French broadcaster France 24 Wednesday saying he had filmed the killings and would post the videos online, the broadcaster said.

    The same .45 caliber gun has reportedly been used in three separate shooting incidents over the past nine days, resulting in seven deaths in the Toulouse area. Those killed include four people at the Jewish school this week, as well as three French troops of North African and Caribbean descent, who were killed in two separate incidents last week. The victims were shot in the head by a gunman riding a black Yamaha scooter, reports said.

    The chief suspect is said to have cited the death of Palestinian children as the reason for the attacks, and to have targeted the French troops of North African descent (like himself) because he considered them traitors. French police allegedly tracked him based on recent emails inquiring about the sale of the motorbike.

    Read More »from French police close in on suspect in Toulouse school killings
  • Lynndie England, former Army reservist and the face of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, in Keyser, W.Va. on June 17, 2009. (Vicki Smith/AP)Lynndie England, the 29-year-old former U.S. Army Reserve prison guard who was convicted of abusing detainees in the 2004 Abu Ghraib scandal, said in an interview Monday that she doesn't feel sorry for the Iraqi prisoners she was accused of abusing. But England, who served almost two years in a military prison, said she has lost sleep over whether the uproar concerning the released Abu Ghraib abuse photos cost the lives of fellow American troops.

    "I think about it all the time—indirect deaths that were my fault," England told the Daily's M.L. Nestel in an interview Monday from her hometown of Fort Ashby, W.Va. "Losing people on our side because of me coming out on a picture."

    England makes no apologies, however, to the Iraqis she and 10 other U.S. soldiers were accused of abusing at the prison.

    Photographs of England smiling with a "thumbs up" gesture in front of a pyramid of naked Iraqi detainees and pulling an Iraqi man by a leash caused international outrage and came to symbolize the ill-fated 2003 U.S. invasion as Iraq plunged into bloody insurgency in 2004. "They weren't innocent," England told Nestel of the Iraqi prisoners. "They're trying to kill us, and you want me to apologize to them? It's like saying sorry to the enemy."

    "They got the better end of the deal," she said.

    Read More »from Abu Ghraib guard Lynndie England says of Iraqi prisoners she was convicted of abusing: ‘They got the better end of the deal’
  • Karilyn Bales (ABC News)Karilyn Bales, the wife of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the American soldier suspected of carrying out the March 11 shooting rampage that killed 16 Afghan civilians, issued a statement Monday night expressing profound sadness over the tragedy, but said she still doesn't know what happened that night.

    "What happened on the night of March 11 in Kandahar Province was a terrible and heartbreaking tragedy," Karilyn Bales, 38, said in a written statement Monday released through a spokesman, the Seattle Times reported.

    She and her family "are all profoundly sad," the statement said, and extended condolences "to all the people of the Panjawai District" whose loved ones perished.

    But they have little information on what transpired, she said, adding that "what has been reported is completely out of character of the man I know and admire."

    "I too want to know what happened," she said. "I want to know how this could be."

    Residents of the Panjwai district village have told the Associated Press they believe the March 11 killings were "retaliation for a roadside bomb attack on U.S. forces in the same area a few days earlier," the AP reported Tuesday. "In accounts to The Associated Press and to Afghan government officials, the residents allege that U.S. troops lined up men from the village of Mokhoyan against a wall after the bombing on either March 7 or 8, and told them they would pay a price for the attack."

    Read More »from Robert Bales’ wife: ‘Profoundly sad’ over Afghan killings; ‘I too want to know what happened’

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