Terror in Toulouse: Not Casting Against Type


The victims: Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his two sons, Gavriel, 6, Aryeh, 3, and Miriam Monsonego, 7, daughter of the school's headmaster.

When this story first broke yesterday I assumed the killer was Muslim.

I know, this marks me as a bigot. More enlightened citizens figured the killer as Mormon or Catholic.

The really enlightened—American liberals—tagged the murderer as a member of the Tea Party.

An Israeli Zaka volunteer stands next to the bodies of Monday’s shootings in a morgue before their funeral in Jerusalem today. Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his sons Aryeh, 5, and Gavriel, 4, and seven-year-old Miriam Monsonego were gunned down.

And geopolitical sophisticates will, no doubt, cast this as a Mossad operation carried out in order to make Muslims look bad.

INTERPOLATION: In Hollywood, when casting a film we look for certain types and we cast actors whose personae fit that type. But sometimes we cast against type. We do this to confound audience expectations and bring a whole new dimension to the movie One of the best examples of casting against type was when Tony Curtis, the amiable boy next door, was cast as the Boston Strangler in the 1968 movie. His performance was chilling and brilliant.

Well, in France they’re not casting against type.

It’s shocking, just shocking, but the confessed butcher of Toulouse is named Mohammed, a Muslim multi-tasker with the standard grievances—Jews, Israel, Jews, Israel, blah, blah, blah—who shoots Jewish children at point blank range while simultaneously filming the act.

A self-confessed Al Qaeda terrorist thought to have murdered seven people across southwest France over the past two weeks was going to post footage of his crimes online today, he claimed.

Mohammed Mera, 24, told news channel France 24′s editor Ebba Kalondo at 1am this morning he had ‘filmed everything’ with a small video camera and ‘intended to put the videos online’.

But just two hours later more than 300 armed police dramatically raided his Toulouse home – where three officers were injured – and he is now cornered and under siege.

In Jerusalem, Mrs. Eva Sandler grieves for her husband and two sons. Eva Sandler is pregnant and arrived in Israel with her remaining child, a toddler.

He has been described as ‘armed and dangerous’ with a cache including an Uzi machine gun and Kalashnikov assault rifle, with police saying he is likely to kill again.

It has also emerged he was being tracked by French security services ‘for years’ and had broken out of a jail in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as part of a mass Taliban escape in 2008.

He said he is punishing France’s army for its foreign interventions and the plight of Palestinian children – and has promised to give himself up later today.

He earlier threw a pistol from a window, in exchange for a ‘communication device’ – and police are now blowing entry points into the building in preparation for a raid.

The suspected serial killer is thought to have killed a Rabbi and three pupils at a Jewish school in the city on Monday, and to have assassinated three soldiers last week.

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said the man, a French-Algerian who had made several visits to Afghanistan, was acting out of revenge for France’s military involvement in the country.

The man, who describes himself as an Islamic warrior, also wanted to take revenge for what he describes as the ‘murder’ of Palestinian children by Israeli forces.

‘He claims to be a Mujahideen and to belong to Al Qaeda,’ said Mr Gueant, who is at the scene of the tense stand-off.

Keep reading…

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  1. Miranda Rose Smith
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    Regarding casting against type: When TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE came out. in 1983, I didn’t go to see it. I read the reviews and learned that three of the stories were remakes from the original series, and the fourth story, the new one, they should have stuck nore faithfully to the plot of the story they stole it from, Theodore R. Cogswell’s “You Know Willie.”
    The makers of that film missed the opportunity to film a wonderful “Twilight Zone” story-a lot of wonderful ‘Twilight Zone” stories, the works of Mary Elizabeth Counselman, the Benson brothers, E. Nesbit, Lisa Tuttle. But they missed the opportunity to film Theodore Dreiser’s short story “The Hand” and to play a wonderful casting-against-type joke on the audience, to have Louise Fletcher play a nurse in a mental institution, have the audience expect another Nurse Ratchet and have her turn out to be a wonderful, kind, caring woman.

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  2. antoineclarke
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I’m “shocked, shocked” that the French police didn’t take the guy alive.

    A few details I picked up in local media. The soldiers who were shot weren’t white and French neo-Nazis have carried out some attacks, including the attempted assassination of the then President Chirac at a 14th July parade in 2002 (I think).

    The soldiers were: Sergeant Imad Ibn-Ziaten, Corporal Abdel Chennouf and Prvate Mohamed Legouad. I think you can guess why it was not obvious that the perps weren’t white racists.

    So while a local Muslim was clearly a likely perp, the apparent targeting of non-white troops did complicate the police effort. Motorcycle-riding terrorists with machine guns in France tend to be on the political extremes: Islamists have generally used bombs in France.

    The motorcycle was stolen from the first victim. The numberplate confirmed that the attacks on soldiers and the Jewish school were by the same person. I reckon identifying a motorcycle thief in a few days is pretty good going.

    My impression is that the decision to try and take the guy alive or not, was based entirely on the question of whether he had unknown accomplices and would he give them up. France has no official death penalty since 1981, but cop killers have an unusually high tendency to be “shot trying to escape”. Hence the storyline for Nikita. The conspiracy theory will be that Sarkozy ordered the whole thing to make the Left lose the election.

    Where the French government is embarrassed is that it has tried to manage its relationship with Islam by creating space for law abiding Muslims: the veil ban but government funds for mosques (with strings attached). The government of Qatar has recently been welcomed in funding small business start ups in Muslim neighbourhoods. 

    These attacks will no doubt lead to questions about how effective the policy has been.

    The attack on Jewish children was appalling and I agree with calls for tough action against any organisation that facilitated or incited it. But I am disappointed that barely any comment has been made about the immigrants who have volunteered to join the armed forces and been murdered for it. This is a mistake. French Muslims will conclude that when an Islamist murders Jews, the full force of the state swings into action, but when he was “only” murdering “Arab” members of the armed forces, it was less important. This will have bad propaganda consequences I fear.

    BTW, most French Jewish organisations immediately blamed everyone EXCEPT Muslims and the French Left for the attacks: especially Marine Le Pen, Sarkozy, the Catholics. I was not impressed with being accused of complicity in the school murders by French Jewish leaders. They have a genius for antagonising potential allies.

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    • kishke
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Antoine: Agreed. The leftist Jewish organizations are self-appointed spokesmen for other Jews. Ordinary Jews, without their leftist sympathies, do not share their aversion to blaming Muslims.

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  3. kishke
    Posted March 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m amazed that they caught him so quickly.

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    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted March 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink


      There are a closed-circuit security cameras outside the Yeshiva. The lens captured the motorcycle’s license plate. Thus the brilliant police work.

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      • kishke
        Posted March 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        In the article I read it said something about them tracing back a message from his brother’s computer to the first paratrooper killed.

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      • antoineclarke
        Posted March 22, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        The motorcycle was stolen from the first victim. Actually, it was rather good detective work…

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  4. Johnny
    Posted March 21, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I heard the police first looked at some neo-nazis as the possible perps before zeroing in on the immigrant from Algeria. Great police work there. Let’s not accuse the police of racial  profiling. The PC police will go after the real police.

    Churchill wrote While England Sleeps. When will Europe realize it is now sleeping on another great threat? Anyone like Geert Wilders is accused of being a jackbooted thug because they point out the problems muslim immigrants are causing.

    I have never lived in Europe so maybe their personal antennas are better tuned to the smallest signs of fascist stirrings. But while they seem quick to denounce and march against anyone resembling neo-nazis, they seem willfully blind to those in simpatico with real nazis.

    I’m reading The Tattoed Girl about Stieg Larsson. The publisher of Expo magazine where Larsson worked says the magazine is “focused on organized intolerance; that is, groups or networks people who propagate intolerant ideas, from anti-Semitism to Islamophobia to hate against Gypsies.”  I’m halfway through the book and while there are a lot of stories about bad Swedish neo-nazis there is nothing about Jew-hating muslim immigrants. It’s like they have idea that the Israeli Davis Cup team couldn’t play in front of tennis fans in Malmo. Like the Southern Poverty Law Center that sees the Gestapo in every neighborhood in America while whistling past hundreds of radical mosques, Europeans seem to be ignoring a big part of the haters in their midst. 

    Eva Sandler and the friends and families of all the victims are in our thoughts and prayers. Let’s hope people in Europe and America realize these killings were made possible by a society that danced in the streets as the towers came down on 9-11.

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    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted March 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink


      Neo Nazis are a favorite here in Hollywood.

      A few years ago I was hired to write a movie about Islamic terrorists. I handed in my first draft and the studio wanted one small change: switch the Muslims to Neo Nazis. I declined. They fired me—which was sort of fun because I have a pay or play deal so they had to pay my full fee. Imagine, getting paid not to write!

      Of course, the film never got made.

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    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:57 am | Permalink

      The Stieg Larssen books are more about the fantasy life of a Scandinavian leftist than about actual life in Sweden – thus the brilliant punk hacker girl who sleeps with the crusading journalist, the omnipresent conspiracies of powerful white men, the neo- and not-so-neo-Nazis everywhere. Leftists always like to imagine themselves as a Schindler – or Indiana Jones. They’re not so eager to entertain the possibility that they might be – to quote a friend of mine who takes on these people all the time – hiding Nazis in their attic.

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  5. Posted March 21, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    This will amaze The Guardian, who just knew that the killer was a lone right-wing immigrant-hating extremist doing the dirty work of Sarkozy.

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    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted March 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Squander Two:

      Hence the affectionate title we give: “Al Guardian.”

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    • AliasJoe
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      To the Leftists, every killer is a right-wing fanatic…
      I don’t know if one should classify Al Qaeda as a right-wing (or ultra-conservative, fundamentalist) group/religion within Islam or not. Paula Stern had a great post (several months ago) about the difference between the terrorists and us. We (most Christians, Jews and Muslims) honor love and we honor life. The terrorists, with their (perverted) interpretation of the Koran, honor hate and death. It’s that simple.

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