A "reluctance to confront radical Islamists for fear of violating their civil liberties" contributed to French officials' failure to act against Mohammed Merah prior to a series of attacks in Toulouse that killed three soldiers and three children outside a Jewish school last week.
That's the conclusion from Fred Fleitz, former House Intelligence Committee chief of staff in an analysis of the case.
Merah, who was on an American no-fly list, was subject to surveillance by French authorities. But they never built a case that would have allowed his apprehension, writes Fleitz, now the managing editor at the Langley Intelligence Group Network. This is in spite of the fact that his travels to Pakistan and training in Afghanistan were known and after he allegedly he showed explicit jihadist videos to young boys he was trying to recruit, and then threatened to kill a family who complained.
French police did not pursue the incident, Fleitz writes.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon said authorities lacked "evidence that he was a dangerous man."
Merah was killed in a shootout with authorities after a 32-hour siege. In response, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a ban on radical imams entering the country, including influential Muslim Brotherhood theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
That will have little effect, Fleitz argues, saying poverty and unemployment among French Muslims makes their community "fertile ground for radical Islamists and home-grown terrorism."
Merah's brother, meanwhile, has been arrested as an accomplice in the killings. An official described Abelkader Merah as "anchored in a radical Islam, favorable toward armed jihad" who exerted considerable influence over his brother.
And his father has threatened to sue the government for failing to capture Merah alive.
Read Fleitz's analysis here.