--In conversations with authorities during the standoff, Merah mocked their inability to figure everything out despite ample evidence of his involvement with terrorist groups: "I got myself arrested by the Jews in Israel, by Iraqi soldiers in Mosul, by Algerian soldiers in the mountains of Boumerdes or mountains next to the Kabylia region where all our brothers operate. I got myself arrested in Afghanistan." Merah suggested that authorities should have "called the cyber-police," since he even sent his mother an email from the terrorist mecca of Waziristan. What did the Boston suspects' e-trail reveal beyond a YouTube account possibly opened by Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2012 that included a subcategory of deleted videos that had been labeled "terrorists"?
--French intelligence had been following Merah since 2006 and was ultimately misled into thinking he was just a harmless punk because he acted like a typical delinquent -- with the exception of all the terrorist theme-park trips, of course. Similarly, Dzhokar Tsarnaev's Twitter account reflected little more than what his friends described as an interest in girls and parties. It's a strategy, not a coincidence. Around 2009, Merah had deliberately begun the Islamic practice of "taqiyya," a jihadist tactic that involves hiding one's Islamism by partying, avoiding mosques, and otherwise blending in with the prevailing culture to muddy the waters of suspicion. It seemed to work brilliantly, because at one point, French intelligence even considered using Merah as an asset in light of all the trips he was making to Terrorist Disneyland (but ultimately decided against it, according to a statement by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls last month). All this despite the fact that French authorities had written in 2007: "Mohamed Merah could be considered a 'radical jihadist.'"
And what about the possibility of a terrorist sleeper cell near Boston that authorities have been investigating in connection with the bombings, according to Britain's Daily Mirror? A sleeper cell was busted in France last October, and its stash included the same pressure-cooker-bomb materials popularized in a 2010 issue of al-Qaeda's online magazine, "Inspire," and used in the Boston bombings.
There's no mystery here. It's just the same old jihad.
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