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Gunman Merah was watched for years

Intelligence reports released today show Mohamed Merah was known to police since at least 2009 and closely followed

GUNMAN Mohamed Merah was known to French intelligence services at least two years before he killed seven people in attacks in Toulouse and Montauban, newly released documents confirm today.

The interior ministry has declassified 23 pages of confidential reports and documents revealing that Merah was under surveillance for some time and was considered a growing threat.

Questions were asked about surveillance of Merah after the attacks and siege at his home in March. The Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur interviewed him in November last year after he returned from Afghanistan and he was on a list of those banned from flying to the US.

The new documents, seen by Le Parisien newspaper, show Merah was identified as a potential threat back in December 2009. An intelligence note says he was in regular contact with his brother Abdelkader, who was living in Egypt and teaching "jihad-based" movements.

A year later, in November 2010, Merah was again named as one of a "new generation" of "determined" Islamists in Toulouse - and in January 2011 he was described as becoming "radicalised", with details given about his visit to Afghanistan.

Later in 2011, further intelligence reports described the growing threat he posed and his plans to visit Pakistan - although he was not stopped from going ahead with this trip. On his return in December, officers reported that he posed a serious threat of "armed action".

Merah died in March after a 32-hour armed siege at his flat in Toulouse. He had previously killed seven people - three paratroopers and three children and a teacher from a Toulouse Jewish school.

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